A Lawsuit Over HFCS Might Be Sweet For the Victors

It’s hard to believe, but claims of “false advertising” tend to not get much attention. But a lawsuit over calling High Fructose Corn Syrup “Corn Sugar” is being mounted, and the stakes are high. From a Press Release by The Sugar Association:

A coalition of sugar farmers’ cooperatives and other producers, including C&H Sugar Company, have accused the producers of High Fructose Corn Syrup of what amounts to food identity theft. Among the several defendants are the giant company Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cargill and the Corn Refiners Association.

The sugar farmers allege that the defendants have spent $50 million in a mass media rebranding campaign that misleads the consuming public by asserting that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is natural and is indistinguishable from the sugar extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets. They are also asking the Food & Drug Administration to allow HFCS to be called “corn sugar” on food and beverage ingredient labels, even though “corn sugar” has for many decades been the commonly used name of a distinct corn starch product.

The defendants in this case, the HFCS manufacturers, are now attempting to get the suit dismissed.

Does it matter if marketers attempt to get consumers to think of HFCS as “Corn Sugar?” Of course. What’s in a name? Ask the fisheries who catch the “Patagonian Toothfish.” Which wasn’t all that appetizing until it was renamed “Chilean Sea Bass,” and became a big success among seafood lovers.

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About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.

  • http://twitter.com/MediaFiche MediaFiche

    You are right. Changing the name from a term that has already been labeled as negative to one that will most likely make people shrug their shoulders and say, “Doesn’t sound bad” is a big deal.