'Corn sugar' loses to 'high fructose corn syrup'

Fifty pound bags of sugar are on display at a Costco store in Tucson, Arizona. Another sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, will keep its name after the FDA rejected a bid to relabel it "corn sugar."

Stacey Vanek Smith: The Food and Drug Administration has rejected a bid to rename high fructose corn syrup. Corn refiners wanted to call the sweetener “corn sugar” on nutrition labels.

Marketplace’s Amy Scott has that story.


Amy Scott: Corn Refiners have been fighting the perception that high fructose corn syrup is unnatural or worse for you than sugar.

You may have seen ads like this on TV.

TV Commercial: Whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.

But according to the FDA, sugar is a solid food. Corn syrup is a liquid.

Marion Nestle teaches nutrition at New York University. She says the FDA was right to stay out of what’s essentially a marketing dispute between the corn and sugar industries.

Marion Nestle: There really isn't any difference biochemically, so in that sense the corn refiners have the science on their side. But they don’t have public opinion on their side.

Sugar is fighting its own PR battle. New York City just announced a proposed ban on large drinks sweetened with sugar or corn syrup.

Brand strategist Jonathan Salem Baskin says the name isn't the problem.

Jonathan Salem Baskin: What corn syrup has as a challenge is the same thing that the sugar folks have as a challenge, which is the stuff isn't particularly good for you.

Nutritionists say we'd all be better off eating less of both.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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