LOS ANGELES, Oct. 23– A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit claiming corn processors practiced false advertising in a campaign rebranding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as “corn sugar” will go forward. 


U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall made her ruling Friday night in Los Angeles in the case brought by the Western Sugar Cooperative, among other sugar representatives, against the Corn Refiners Association (CRA).


The corn processors petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval to substitute “corn sugar” for “high-fructose corn syrup” on ingredient labels. The FDA’s decision is still pending and it may take up to two years. The Corn Refiners Association aimed for dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that their campaign is educational and not attempting to sell any product and also that sugar and high fructose corn syrup are metabolized by the body in the same way. 


However, the judge ruled in her decision that the corn industry's campaigns "constitute commercial speech" and the industry group is not exempt from federal false advertising regulations simply because its statements relate to a public health issue.


“There is evidence in the record indicating that Defendants have themselves made statements about the different chemical make-up between table sugar and HFCS,” according to Judge Marshall. “Plaintiffs have also submitted studies and papers that support its allegation that CRA’s claim that HFCS is sugar and/or natural is false and/or misleading.”



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