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'Corn sugar' fight continues in California.

A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled Oct. 21 that a lawsuit seeking to stop the corn refining industry's use of the term "corn sugar" for high fructose corn syrup can go forward, a decision that the sugar industry lawyers who brought the suit said was "very encouraging."

The suit was brought by a number of plaintiffs, including the Western Sugar Cooperative, against the Corn Refiners Association.

The decision wasn't entirely a victory for the sugar industry, however. The judge granted a defense motion to drop individual corn companies as defendants, leaving only the corn Refiners Association, and dismissed a part of the lawsuit claiming that the corn industry violated California law in addition to federal regulations.

Corn refiners have been using the term "corn sugar" as they attempt to rebrand HFCS, the sweetening agent found in most sodas and many processed foods. The sugar industry says the campaign amounts to false advertising, and there are numerous differences between the granular sugar product and liquid HFCS.

But lawyers for corn refiners said sugar and high fructose corn syrup are equivalent in how they are metabolized by the body. They also said the lawsuit was an attempt to stifle a national conversation about the merits of high fructose corn syrup versus sugar.

Expert opinion is divided on high fructose corn syrup, with some saying there is no evidence that the sweetener is any worse for the body than sugar, others saying its high levels of fructose can be stored in the liver as fat and trigger gout and hypertension problems.
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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Oct 31, 2011
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