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Should Sweetened Drinks Be Taxed?

Op-ed from the Sugar Association

The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) and its members have launched a multimillion-dollar campaign — a 24-7 advertising and social media-driven onslaught that has done nothing but confuse consumers — to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn sugar."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines sugar as sucrose — the naturally occurring sugar found most abundantly in sugarcane and sugar beets.

And on May 30 of this year, the FDA officially rejected the CRA's petition for the name change, saying the action would only serve to confuse U.S. consumers and could even pose a health risk to those suffering from fructose intolerance, further validating that the differences between the two substances are real and they are substantial.

Sugar is molecularly different from HFCS due to a meaningful, naturally occurring bond between its fructose and glucose molecules. Our bodies must break this bond to metabolize sugar. HFCS is man-made and doesn't have this bond.

Sucrose is always 50-50 fructose and glucose — that's the way it's found in nature (in cane and beets) and that's the way our bodies recognize it. HFCS on the other hand, comes in many formulations — everything from HFCS-42, HFCS-55 and HFCS-90 — depending on the amount of fructose present. Researchers have even found that HFCS in beverages can contain as much as 65 percent unbonded fructose.

HFCS is not sugar. Sugar is sucrose.

We have reached out to members of the media in an attempt to explain why the headlines admonishing the consumption of "sugar-sweetened" beverages play right into the hands of the corn refiners' misleading advertising campaign.

Unfortunately, most of these discussions don't seem to resonate, and sure enough, the next time there's a news story involving soda, I expect I'll receive calls asking what we think.

Perhaps I'll refer them to this article.

Andrew Briscoe is CEO of the Sugar Association, a Washington-based trade group.

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