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Sugar Industry “Shopping Mall” Survey Misleads Consumers

Sugar Industry “Shopping Mall” Survey Misleads Consumers

November 11, 2011

CONTACT: David Knowles
(202) 331-1634

WASHINGTON, DC – The shopping mall survey announced today by the Sugar Association misleads consumers by perpetuating the myth that sucrose (table sugar) is healthier than high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). “The Sugar Association has a commercial interest in keeping consumer confusion regarding HFCS alive. And that is precisely what their shopping mall survey attempts to accomplish,” said Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Association (CRA).

“The Sugar Association is standing in the way of consumers making informed choices about their diets. Instead, they want consumers to believe that table sugar is healthier than HFCS,” said Erickson. The truth is that HFCS is nutritionally equivalent to table sugar and has the same number of calories. Both sweeteners are made up of the two sugars glucose and fructose and are metabolized by the body the same way.

There is widespread consumer confusion about HFCS stemming from its name. 70% of consumers could not identify HFCS when presented with the American Dietetic Association definition for it, according to a national survey of 1,273 persons. (The complete survey can be found at The survey found that consumers believe HFCS is higher in fructose, calories and sweetness than table sugar, “In fact, the term high fructose corn syrup confuses consumers, because it is not high in fructose at all,” said Erickson. The survey confirmed that Americans better understood the amount of calories in HFCS and sweetness level when the term “corn sugar” was used.

That is why the CRA has requested that the FDA give food and beverage manufacturers the option to call HFCS what it is: corn sugar. Consumers want to know what is in their foods and to have ingredient names that can be clearly understood. “Corn sugar” achieves this simply and succinctly. More importantly, the term “corn sugar” enables consumers to readily identify the source of added sugars in the diet, whether it be from cane, beet or corn.

For their own commercial purposes, the Sugar Association is trying to perpetuate the myth that HFCS is higher in fructose and calories than table sugar and is uniquely responsible for health problems, including obesity. Neither is true. As Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest, put it: “To pretend that a product sweetened with sugar is healthier than a product sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup is totally misguided.” And the American Dietetic Association stated, “High fructose corn syrup … is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Both sweeteners contain the same number of calories (4 per gram) and consist of about equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”

“The Sugar Association does not want consumers to know the science and the facts surrounding HFCS, which are the cornerstone of the CRA’s educational campaign and petition to the FDA. The Sugar Association seems to care more about their commercial interests than consumer clarity,” said Erickson.


The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) 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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