Tuesday, September 14, 2010
No Matter What You Call It - Sugar is Sugar
The makers of high fructose corn syrup want to sweeten up its image with a new name: corn sugar. The bid to rename the sweetener by the Corn Refiners Association comes as Americans' concerns about health and obesity have sent consumption of high fuctose corn syrup, used in soft drinks but also in bread, cereal and other foods, to a 20-year low.
The group applied Tuesday to the Food and Drug Administration to get the "corn sugar" name approved for use on food labels. They hope a new name will ease confusion about about the sweetener. Some people think it is more harmful or more likely to make them obese than sugar, perceptions for which there is little scientific evidence.
Approval of the new name could take two years, but that's not stopping the industry
from using the term now in advertising. There's a new online marketing campaign at
www.cornsugar.com and on television. Two new commercials try to alleviate shopper
confusion, showing people who say they now understand that "whether it's corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can't tell the difference. "Sugar is sugar."
Renaming products has succeeded before. For example, low eurcic acid rapeseed oil became much more popular after becoming "canola oil" in 1988. Prunes tried to shed a stodgy image by becoming "dried plums" in 2000.
The new name would help people understand the sweetener, said Audrae Dickson,president of the Washington-based group. "It has been highly disparaged and highly misunderstood," she said. She declined to say how much the campaign costs.
Some scientists have linked consumption of full-calorie soda — the vast majority of which is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup —to obesity.
But sugar and high fructose corn syrup are nutritionally the same, and there's no evidence that the sweetener is any worse for the body than sugar, said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The bottom line is people should consume less of all sugars, Jacobson said.