According to a September 14th New York Times Well piece, the Corn Refiners Association, the representative of firms manufacturing high-fructose corn syrup, is trying to get the FDA to start referring to the ingredient as “corn sugar.” The FDA has six months to respond to the petition for a fresh handle. Born out of a desire to dodge the bad reputation the heavily-subsidized sweetener has earned, this is a transparent maneuver on the part of the producers. Still, as noted nutritionist Marion Nestle points out, who can blame them? Their product has been maligned for many good reasons and yet the “real” sugar alternative–still sugar, still capable of causing cavities and doling out heart disease–has become a “natural” darling proudly advertised on the sides of boxes and bottles.
It's satisfying to condemn the corn syrup people for pushing for the proposed name change, but the real blame (and subsequent responsibility) rests, in large part, not on the shoulders of the corn syrup people, the cane sugar people, or even the government people who dole out subsidies. Consumers are in charge here, right? Shouldn't people know what they're drinking and take care of themselves? Soda doesn't lie, whether it's a can of Hansen's or a few plus-sized pulls off a two-liter of Cherry Coke. If what you're drinking is so sweet it makes your teeth vibrate like a cell phone, then it's probably the sort of high-calorie, nutritionally-worthless substance you ought to avoid. That is, unless it's a worthwhile cause. Like a margarita.
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