The years-long spat pitted the likes of the Sugar Association Inc. and American Sugar Cane League of the U.S.A., Inc. against Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Cargill Inc. and the Corn Refiners Association Inc.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

November 20, 2015

2 Min Read
Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup Producers Settle Years-Long Legal Spat

Foes in the sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) industries on Friday announced resolving litigation in California federal court.

The years-long spat pitted the likes of the Sugar Association Inc. and American Sugar Cane League of the U.S.A., Inc. against Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Cargill Inc. and the Corn Refiners Association Inc.

The settlement—the terms of which were not disclosed—was reached in the middle of trial, Reuters reported.

“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," the litigants said in a joint statement.

In 2011, the sugar industry sued corn refiners and their trade association, alleging false advertising and seeking relief under California’s Unfair Competition Law and the federal Lanham Act. The federal statute gives companies an avenue to crack down on rivals for unfair competition.

The defendants “crafted a campaign to revitalize and rebrand HFCS," which had been linked to possible health and nutritional problems, according to the initial complaint. The campaign including promoting HFCS as “natural," making claims that HFCS is “nutritionally the same as table sugar," and characterizing it in advertising and pricing sheets as “corn sugar," the lawsuit alleged.

Neither side ceded ground. Plaintiffs filed amended complaints, and the defendants countersued. According to Reuters, the sugar growers sought $1.1 billion in compensatory damages, while the corn refiners asked for about $530 million in their countersuit alleging the Sugar Association falsely said in its newsletter that corn syrup caused cancer and obesity.

The lawsuit is reflective of the costly disputes between rivals in the food and beverage industry over advertising claims that can endure for years in the trial and appellate courts.

The case, Western Sugar Cooperative et al. v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Company et al, has been pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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