On Tuesday, a hearing will be held in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on the lawsuit filed by the Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Company and C & H Sugar against Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cargill and the Corn Refiners Association. The suit charges that the high fructose corn syrup branding campaign constitutes false advertising under federal and state law.
"This suit is about false advertising, pure and simple," said Inder Mathur, President and CEO of Western Sugar Cooperative. "If consumers are concerned about your product, then you should improve it or explain its benefits, not try to deceive people about its name or distort scientific facts."
The sugar coalition claims that the defendants' claims that "sugar is sugar" and that these sugars are equivalent and metabolized the same has artificially slowed the decline of HFCS sales and harmed goodwill of sugar.
Corn Refiners Association President Audrae Erickson says the case has no merit.
"They are alleging that the campaign that the Corn Refiners Association is using is marketing in nature," Erickson said. "We believe it is not marketing. We have been engaged in an educational exercise to inform consumers what this ingredient really is; that it is a sugar made from corn. The CRA doesn't sell a product or promote the purchase of a product. In fact consumers cannot buy high fructose corn syrup yet consumers are the focus of our educational efforts."
Erickson says their campaign was launched as a way to combat misinformation about high-fructose corn syrup causing obesity. She says science shows corn sugar is no different than any other sugar whether it is cane sugar, maple sugar, or honey.
The lawsuit seeks to stop the campaign and bar the Food and Drug Administration from allowing high fructose corn syrup to be labeled "corn sugar." The complaint states "Defendants' resort to such literally false and misleading statements harms consumers, harms the makers of real sugar and harms any dialogue based on the truth.
The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss this lawsuit. The hearing on that motion will take place Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.