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Who You Callin' Sugar? Sticky Suit Pits Sugar Farmers Against Corn Refiners

Posted by Dale Buss on September 13, 2011 07:44 PM

Boston isn't the only US city that's not sweet on sugar these days. In what seems to be a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, sugar producers are suing corn processors in Los Angeles for peddling unhealthy products.

C&H Sugar and other groups of sugar-cane and beet farmers sued in Los Angeles this week to block Cargill, Archer-Daniels-Midland and other members of the Corn Refiners Association who produce high-fructose corn syrup from rebranding their product as "corn sugar."

The court battle kicked off today, with sugar farmers claiming they want to save nutrition-minded Americans from the companies' false advertising and efforts to undermine good ol' American healthy eating. 

It's no surprise that even sugar producers would want to keep their distance from the HFCS Complex these days. 

The sweetener has come to be used in so many junk foods, ranging from carbonated soft drinks to crackers, HFCS has become Nutritional Enemy No. 1 to lots of moms and schools. And that takes some doing, because sweetened cereal, peanut butter, some dairy products and McDonald's french fries already were way ahead of HFCS in the Dubious Food Index.

Cargill and the others got tired of watching food producers flocking to a "No HFCS" position and even, in many cases, putting that distinction on their labels. So they came up with the "corn sugar" idea to promote the notion that HFCS isn't any worse than regular refined sugar and to slip in the idea that it's a "natural" sugar, presumably like, say, fructose in fruit.

The Los Angeles Times commented in an editorial today that it's all sugar — and all to be taken in moderation:

"When it comes to how the human body metabolizes glucose, fructose, sucrose and the like, dietitians say the corn refiners have it mostly right: Sugar is sugar. It's a source of empty calories; one isn't more healthful than another, and Americans consume too much of it, period."

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