The battle over what constitutes sugar has been waging for quite some time. Is Sugar a product that can only come from natural forms? Or can it be constructed in a laboratory? It is an interesting discussion, one that few people follow, but a conversation that has some people quite concerned.

At the very core is the question can a crunched. munched, and chemically screwed  derivative of corn known by to most of us with the catchy name HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) be called Sugar?

The DC based lobby group, the CRA have worked long and hard to get us mere mortals to understand that we are full of crap. It does not matter where the sugar comes from, Sugar Is Sugar. They have flooded the cable TV channels with the claim. Needless to say the producers of real sugar are less than enthusiastic about the CRA palming off HFCS as sugar. It is rare that Big Food squabbles in public, preferring to live in peaceful although competitive harmony.

HFCS has been a contentious subject for quite some time, in fact there has been somewhat of a consumer rebellion. Several high profile companies have ceased using it, and at least one brand Hunts Ketchup even went so far as to advertise the fact.

I did contact Hunts about this. I found it interesting that a Conagra subsidiary would break ranks on the HFCS question. They dodged the science bullet, instead claiming that dropping HFCS was merely a decision made from consumer requests. No science was hurt!

There are few sentient beings that buy into this argument. But I did enjoy the exchange of emails with the Hunts PR Wonks.

The CRA talk a good game when they have the benefit of adult supervision. They crash and burn when asked direct questions. The current court battle has them waaaay waaay behind the 8 ball. They are long on cutesy adverts, but they sure hate the concept of talking about their ‘sugar’.

Alas Audrae Erickson, the president of the CRA was too busy to join us on Sunday. I did chat with head PR flunky, oops, I mean the Director Of Communications, David Knowles. But apparently, neither he, nor any single person at the CRA was available to talk on air.

The Western Sugar Cooperative on the other hand were more . Co-lead Attorney from the Squire Sanders company, Adam Fox was more than happy to join us for a discussion about the ongoing court case. I did explain to him that an invitation to the CRA had been extended, the rejection of the offer did not appear to surprise him. In fact to paraphrase his reply, ‘the CRA talk a good game of wanting an open and frank discussion, but never actually get around to it’. (note, those are my words not Adam Fox).

To hear his exact description you can catch the entire program here.

I will be honest, I would have been shocked if the CRA would have been willing to enter the lions den. Also on the program were Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks. They have authored four books on the subject of health and nutrition and they have little good to say on the subject of HFCS. Mannie is a veteran trial lawyer and Ashley is an RN. You can find their books here.

The panel was rounded out by LA based attorney Peter Haven. I have to admit that I was somewhat unfair to him, because I was looking for an unbiased opinion. It was not until a couple of minutes before we went on air that I shared the subject of the program with him! Peter Haven always amazes me, he did not miss a beat. As I had hoped, he jumped right in and asked the important questions.

Simon Barrett

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