Sugar, high fructose corn syrup to battle in court over advertising

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A battle over sweeteners is getting underway in a Los Angeles federal courtroom. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. (KABC)

A battle over sweeteners is getting underway in a Los Angeles federal courtroom. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

Sugar is on one side and high fructose corn syrup is on the other.

It all started with a 2008 advertising campaign claiming high fructose corn syrup is the same as refined granulated sugar. Sugar growers filed a false advertising lawsuit against corn refiners, including Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, seeking as much as $2 billion.

The Sugar Association released a video statement Tuesday.

"In this case, there are issues that are important to everybody in America. The issues include can we rely upon what we read in the ingredient labels on our food? Can we make high fructose corn syrup identify itself as high fructose corn syrup and not use some other word or selection of words to disguise the ingredients?"

But corn refiners and the two companies filed their own lawsuits claiming the sugar industry made false and misleading statements that included a comment that high fructose corn syrup is addictive.

The other issue in this trial: is there a difference between sugar and high fructose corn syrup?

In 2012, corn refiners lost a bid to call HFCS corn sugar. The Food and Drug Administration ruled sugar is a solid, dried and crystallized food, not syrup.

Corn refiners claim the human body treats both sugar and high fructose corn syrup the same way.

But some high fructose corn syrup can have as much as a 10 percent higher concentration of fructose than glucose; whereas with sugar the split is 50-50.

Nutrionist Christy Meyers weighed in, "Because high fructose corn syrup is higher in fructose, and fructose is more taxing for the liver, it's also more fructose is converted to fat than glucose is converted to fat. So that's just a fancy way of saying different types of sugar do different things in your body. So because high fructose corn syrup is higher in fructose, I guess technically it's a little bit worse for your body."

As for the trial, opening arguments are expected to get underway on Wednesday. Attorneys spent the entire day Tuesday with jury selection.
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