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U.S. FDA checks dictionary on corn syrup vs sugar

U.S. food and beverage makers who add high-fructose corn syrup to soda, breakfast cereal and other items will not be able to label it "corn sugar," under a decision by federal officials that frustrated corn processors but won praise from the sugar industry and some health advocates.

Both sides say they have consumers' interests at heart and are trying to minimize confusion about the term "sugar."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which decides what goes on food labels, has ruled against the corn groups. The agency said calling high-fructose corn syrup "sugar" would mislead people - and could harm them.

"FDA's approach is consistent with the common understanding of sugar and syrup as referenced in a dictionary," the agency said in a letter posted on its website late on Wednesday.

The United States is the biggest consumer and manufacturer of high-fructose corn syrup. The sweetener was added to beverages such as Coca-Cola in the 1980s, but in recent years food makers have been trying out a return to sugar after some studies linked corn syrup to obesity.

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