High-fructose corn syrup has a bad reputation, so it's no wonder that the Corn Refiners Association wants to change the name to corn sugar.

It also happens to be true that changing the name would make food labels more understandable to consumers.

That's why the Food and Drug Administration should grant the request that has been pending for more than a year.

Currently some consumers seem to think they can benefit their health by switching from products that contain high-fructose corn syrup to those labeled as containing sugar.

That's not what reliable experts say.

The American Dietetic Association says, "Both sweeteners contain the same number of calories and consist of equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable."

Dr. Arthur Frank of George Washington University says, "HFC is the chemical and nutritional equivalent of table sugar. The two substances have the same composition, and are metabolized identically."

Michael Jacobsen of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says, "to pretend that a product sweetened with sugar is healthier than high fructose corn syrup is totally misguided."

Ironically, some consumers who try to avoid high-fructose sweeteners might end up using alternatives that actually have a higher fructose content, such as agave nectar or fruit juice concentrates.

In Nebraska, the name change would be in the state's economic interests. The production of corn sweetener in the Cornhusker State adds about $600 million worth of value to Nebraska corn, according to the Corn Refiners Association. It also means jobs. The payroll from corn refining in the state is estimated to be about $54 million, according to Carl Sousek, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

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Since 2003, consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has been declining while the consumption of sugar has been increasing. Some food product manufacturers have even slapped labels on their products informing shoppers that they contain no HFCS.

The reasons that high-fructose corn syrup became so popular as a sweetener is that it is cheap by comparison, liquid and readily available.

There's no rational reason why consumers and manufacturers should give up those advantages.

The name change to corn sugar is accurate, simple and clear. It will help stop consumers from fooling themselves into thinking there is an easier option than avoiding total calories.

The FDA has been receiving public comment for more than a year. There's no reason for the agency to delay longer. It should approve the name change.



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