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.



About Dan Goldgeier

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. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.