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FDA Denies Request to Use 'Corn Sugar' as Name for HFCS

Jun 06, 2012

In 2010, the Corn Refiners Association filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to authorize the use of "corn sugar" as a common alternate name for high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. After 20 months of consideration and review, FDA denied the request last week, saying the petition did not provide sufficient grounds for the change.

The Corn Refiners said consumers were confused by the name "high fructose corn syrup" and believed, incorrectly, that HFCS is higher in calories, fructose and sweetness than sugar. The petition asked FDA to amend the generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, regulation for HFCS and designate "corn sugar" as an optional name because it reflects the source of the food (corn), identifies the basic nature of the food (a sugar) and discloses the food’s function as a sweetener.

In its response, FDA explained its regulatory approach for the nomenclature of sugar and syrups, noting that sugar is a solid, dried and crystallized food and syrup is a liquid food.

"HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose," FDA noted in its response to the Corn Refiners Association. "Thus, the use of the term 'sugar' to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties."

FDA offered several other reasons for its decision, including the longstanding use of corn sugar as an alternate name for dextrose. In its petition, the Corn Refiners Association also had asked the agency to eliminate corn sugar as an alternate name for dextrose and to remove all references to corn sugar from the GRAS designation for dextrose.

IDFA and members have followed the progress of the petition, including a supplemental filing by the Corn Refiners Association last summer, because many dairy companies use sugar and high fructose corn syrup in products ranging from flavored milk and yogurt to ice cream and other frozen desserts.

For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at

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