FDA Objects to Calling High-Fructose Corn Syrup “Natural”
An FDA administrator has reportedly told a media source that the agency “would object to the use of the term ‘natural’ on a product containing HFCS [high fructose corn syrup].” Food NavigatorUSA.com revealed in an April 2, 2008, article that its reporters had inquired about HFCS using an FDA system designed to assist manufacturers with the labeling process. According to Food Navigator, FDA Supervisor Geraldine June of the Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements replied in an email that, “The use of synthetic fixing agents in the enzyme preparation, which is then used to produce HFCS, would not be consistent with our (…) policy regarding the use of the term ‘natural.’” “Moreover,” June added, “the corn starch hydrolysate, which is the substrate used in the production of HFCS, may be obtained through the use of safe and suitable acids or enzymes. Depending on the type of acid(s) used to obtain the corn starch hydrolysate, this substrate itself may not fit within the description of ‘natural’ and, therefore, [HFCS] produced from such corn starch hydrolysate would not qualify for a ‘natural’ labeling term.”
June further stated that despite petitions from the Sugar Association and Sara Lee asking to define the term “natural,” the agency has no immediate plans to take action due to limited resources and a lack of consumer interest. Nevertheless, FDA’s response “will at least prevent any future misinterpretations,” concluded Food Navigator, which noted that two major beverage companies last year removed “natural” designations for beverages containing HFCS after consumer advocates threatened legal action.