The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) said it is eager to defend the right of consumers to be informed that high fructose corn syrup is just another kind of sugar, following a decision by a federal judge to include trade association members as defendants in a lawsuit brought by processed sugar interests, including the Sugar Association.
"This ruling is solely about who is included in the lawsuit and has no bearing on the merits of the case which are about ensuring that consumers get the facts regarding high fructose corn syrup," said Audrae Erickson, president of CRA in a prepared statement.
In the only ruling to date on the merits, Judge Marshall ruled in October 2011 that a preliminary review of the evidence showed that the sugar industry Plaintiffs had filed a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Judge Marshall also found in that same ruling last October that the sugar Plaintiffs "have not presented any evidence to support their burden on the claims that CRA's statements have influenced any purchasing decisions [or] that Plaintiffs have suffered an injury."
Erickson added, "Consumers have a right to know what ingredients are in their food and beverages, especially as we're seeing more and more people concerned with managing their sugar intake. It's essential for consumers to understand that high fructose corn syrup is another kind of sugar despite the processed sugar industry's attempts to censor our education campaign."
In April 2011, members of the processed sugar industry, led by the Sugar Association, sued CRA and its members in an attempt to block their efforts to educate consumers that high fructose corn syrup is a form of sugar. It is a commonly accepted, proven fact within the scientific and nutritional communities that sugar derived from corn is not nutritionally different than sugar processed from beets or cane.
"Our ultimate success will not only enable consumers to better understand the sugar content of their foods and beverages, it will send a powerful message to the Sugar Association and other business interests that you cannot stop consumer education as a means to stifle competition in the marketplace," said Erickson.
The lawsuit, pending in federal court in Los Angeles, now continues its discovery phase where parties exchange information. No trial date has been set.