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Sugar Industry Conducted Decade of Attacks to Mislead Consumers About High Fructose Corn Syrup, Federal Jury Learns in Opening Statements


November 4, 2015

CONTACT: Andy Resnick

(202) 534-3501


LOS ANGELES, CA – The nation’s corn refiners today explained to a federal jury how and why the sugar industry conducted a “decade of attacks” against high fructose corn syrup in an effort to regain market share lost to the popular corn sweetener.

“This is a phony lawsuit,” said Dan K. Webb, an attorney for the Corn Refiners Association, the trade group for makers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). “It was ginned up by them, the sugar industry, because they wanted to get a leg up in the marketplace.”

Webb traced the history of sweeteners in the United States, explaining that until 1970, table sugar was the dominant sweetener with no significant competition. That changed in the 1970s, Webb said, with the advent of HFCS, a less-expensive and more versatile sweetener that had the same nutritional characteristics of sugar. In less than three decades, by 2003, HFCS had gained almost half of the market for sweeteners.

In response, Webb told the jury, the sugar industry mounted a campaign to attack HFCS through false and misleading statements. Webb showed the jury several examples of the sugar industry’s commercial advertising campaign, including one that called HFCS the “crack cocaine” of sweeteners and others saying HFCS was uniquely linked to heart disease, stroke, memory loss and obesity.

“Every single one of those statements was false,” Webb said.

As a result of its campaign, Webb said, the sugar industry regained much of its lost market share, at the expense of the corn refiners.

John Bode, president of the Corn Refiners Association, said, “We are very happy our day in court has finally come. We believe the sugar plaintiffs will not be able to prove their case. We expect to show that the Sugar Association has purposely misled the public to create false health concerns and fear about high fructose corn syrup—all for the purpose of increasing sugar’s market share.”

“We believe the jury will determine that CRA and its member companies accurately described high fructose corn syrup during the educational campaign we undertook in response to the Sugar Association’s deceptive tactics.”


The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is the national trade association representing the corn refining industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein and fiber.

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