The request came on the heels of a national advertising campaign promoting the syrup as a natural ingredient made from corn.
But in a letter, Michael M. Landa, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the F.D.A., denied the petition, saying that the term "sugar" is used only for food "that is solid, dried and crystallized."
"HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose," the letter stated. "Thus, the use of the term 'sugar' to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties."
In addition, the F.D.A. concluded that the term "corn sugar" has been used to describe the sweetener dextrose and therefore should not be used to describe high-fructose corn syrup. The agency also said the term "corn sugar" could pose a risk to consumers who have been advised to avoid fructose because of a hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption.
High-fructose corn syrup is found in processed foods including pasta sauces, sodas, cereals, breads, and more.
Image: Syrup, via Shutterstock.