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Sweet Science: Lawsuit Will Settle Sugar vs. Corn Syrup Dispute

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

This is why we can't have sweet things. Sugar is delicious, but it can kill you. High fructose corn syrup may also be deadly. And the two sweeteners have been locked in a sour legal battle over naming rights and advertising.

Can corn syrup call itself "corn sugar?" Is it "natural?" Do we care? Can you just put it into a 64-ounce soda and give it to me, please? You can see sugar's complaint below.

No Sugar Tonight in My Coffee

There was a time when sugar was king. And then high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) jumped on the scene as our soft drink consumption skyrocketed and we needed to find something to do with all that leftover, government subsidized corn. But around the turn of the century, Americans got all health conscious and stopped giving delicious soda to their kids and the market for sweeteners tightened up and became a ruthless death match between sugar and HFCS.

HFCS wanted in on the natural and organic foods movement (and wanted to distance itself from the possible health risks consumers associated with the name) and tried calling itself "natural" and "corn sugar." Cane sugar was like, "Nah, man, this is our corner" and threw some legal paper at the Corn Refiners Association and a few HFCS manufacturers. That was four and a half years ago.

Sippin' on That Corn Syrup

Since then, corn counter sued, saying cane misrepresented the health concerns surrounding HFCS (cane alleged it was as addictive as crack) and seeking some $350 million in damages; despite an FDA ruling that manufacturers and sellers can't call HFCS "corn sugar."

After years of legal haggling, it appears the two sweeteners will finally get to settle this in front of a jury. Cane sugar is hoping jurors will find HFCS's ad campaigns misleading and damaging. Corn sugar just wants to be known as corn sugar. In a dwindling natural foods market, this could be a life and death battle. You can see the first sweet salvo below.

Western Sugar Cooperative, et al. v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, et al.: Complaint by FindLaw

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