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The New York Times reports this morning that the Corn Refiners Association is petitioning the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the name of “high fructose corn syrup” to “corn sugar.”

“Clearly the name is confusing consumers,” Audrae Erickson, president of the trade association, tells the Times. “Research shows that ‘corn sugar’ better communicates the amount of calories, the level of fructose and the sweetness in this ingredient.” Surveys suggest that more than half of US consumers are worried that HFCS is a threat to their health.

The Corn Refiners actually - and perhaps unexpectedly - have a prominent nutrition advocate in their corner: Marion Nestle, a professor in New York University’s department of nutrition.

The Times writes: ““I’m not eager to help the corn refiners sell more of their stuff,’ Dr. Nestle wrote in an e-mail. ‘But you have to feel sorry for them. High-fructose corn syrup is the new trans fat. Everyone thinks it’s poison, and food companies are getting rid of it as fast as they can.’

“Dr. Nestle says she thinks the plural ‘corn sugars’ is a better description of high-fructose corn syrup, which is actually a mixture of glucose and fructose. But she agrees that the corn refiners ‘have lots of reasons to want the change.’

“‘Even I have to admit that it’s not an unreasonable one,’ Dr. Nestle said.”

However, Nestle also says that Americans consume too much sugar of all kinds.

The FDA has six months to rule on the name change request.
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