Marion Nestle’s Verdict on Corn Sugar Lawsuit

In a federal lawsuit filed last Thursday, three sugar companies allege that the Corn Refiners Association’s ongoing efforts to rename high fructose corn syrup as exactly what it is—corn sugar—constitutes false advertising. We don’t often agree with food blogger and nutritionist Marion Nestle, but when someone of her prominence on the national foodie scene says this lawsuit “has nothing to do with health,” we agree.

Nestle blogged last Friday about something we’ve been emphasizing for months, namely, that “sugar is sugar” whether it comes from beets, cane, or corn. And, she reiterated that the biochemical difference between corn sugar and ordinary table sugar is so “biologically insignificant that the body can’t tell them apart.” (The difference in fructose between corn sugar and table sugar is only five percent.)

The U.S. sugar cartel’s only interest in slamming the “corn sugar” name is to protect its product from a legitimate competitor—not to safeguard public health. That’s Nestle’s straight-shooter opinion:

[T]his lawsuit is about marketing competition among sources of sugars (plural). It has nothing to do with health.

Sugar companies aren’t in the habit of describing their product as “beet sugar” or “high fructose cane polysaccharide granules.” So it’s no surprise that they’re opposed to the “corn sugar” name change. Consumers might actually understand that there’s no significant difference between table sugar and corn sugar, forcing Big Sugar to compete with its primary competitor on a level playing field.

Thankfully, Marion Nestle recognizes corn sugar and beet sugar are about as different as chickpeas and garbanzo beans. Anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.

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