Philip Morris tried to escape its tarnished reputation by re-branding itself "Altria" and the private military contractor Blackwater tried to ditch its bad image by re-naming itself "Xe." Now the Corn Refiners Association is taking a tip from these companies and trying to re-brand its much-maligned product, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as "corn sugar." Consumption of HFCS is at a 20-year low. This might make doctors and nutritionists happy, but it's bad news for manufacturers of HFCS, who hope to turn the trend around. No longer should we refer to chemical-sounding "high fructose corn syrup," but instead we should use the fresher, gentler and more natural-sounding term "corn sugar." HFCS has gotten a reputation as obesity's public enemy number one, and over-consumption of HFCS and other sweeteners has been linked to a list of chronic health problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the name change for food labels, but the corn producers are already working to change public perception of their product. They are running TV ads featuring a down-home family farmer and sweeping shots of nature, and their Web site extolls the virtues of HFCS. The re-naming could work. In the 1980s, there was an ingredient called "low erucic acid rapeseed oil" which was re-named "canola oil," and more recently, the FDA permitted prunes to be marketed under the name "dried plums." In both cases, after the name change, sales of the products increased.
By Anne Landman on September 14, 2010