LOS ANGELES (CN) – A group of sugar companies and corn refiners said Friday that they settled a false advertising court battle over the refiners’ attempt to call high fructose corn syrup “corn sugar.”
The Sugar Association, Western Sugar Cooperative and other sugar companies sued Corn Refiners Association and corn refining companies in 2011, seeking a court injunction for false advertising.
Their lawsuit claimed that corn refiners tried to rebrand high fructose corn syrup as a type of sugar after studies linked corn syrup to American obesity and other nutritional and health problems, including diabetes and tooth decay.
According to the complaint, corn refiners claimed in advertisements that corn syrup is “nutritionally the same as table sugar.” The $50 million rebrand didn’t extend to just ads, the sugar companies said – corn refiners also sought to shed the high fructose corn syrup name in favor of “corn sugar.”
“Seeking to co-opt the goodwill of ‘sugar’ and even changing the name by calling it a kind of sugar to sidestep growing consumer sentiment is paradigmatically false and misleading advertising,” the sugar companies claimed in their lawsuit.
Corn producers countered that sugar companies had made a concerted effort to mislead the public about the health risks associated with high fructose corn syrup.
The sugar companies sought a reported $1.5 billion in damages, and the corn refiners countersued for $530 million.
This week’s undisclosed settlement caps a jury trial that began in U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall’s downtown Los Angeles courtroom earlier this month.
The Sugar Association and Corn Refiners Association said in a joint statement that the parties reached a settlement of the claims.
“The details of the settlement agreement are confidential,” they said in a statement. “The parties continue their commitments to practices that encourage safe and healthful use of their products, including moderation in the consumption of table sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.”
In a joint stipulation for dismissal of the action, the parties said that each party would pay their own costs and fees.
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