U. S. District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall ruled that agribusiness giants Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), Cargill and others accused of a national advertising campaign to conceal the truth about high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) cannot escape liability. The companies had argued that they could do so by hiding behind their trade association, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA).
Attorneys for Western Sugar Cooperative and other sugar farmers that brought the suit have targeted advertising claiming HFCS is a natural "corn sugar" that "your body can't tell the difference" from the common table sugar that comes from sugar cane and sugar beets. Judge Marshall had previously ruled that a preliminary review of evidence showed "a reasonable probability of success" that these statements are false.
More recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") rejected a petition by the CRA to change the common or usual name for HFCS to "corn sugar" because, among other reasons, "the use of the term 'sugar' to describe HFCS...would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties."
In her ruling, Judge Marshall said, "Plaintiffs allege with particularity facts for a false advertising claim against Member Companies ADM, Cargill, Corn Products, and Tate & Lyle."
Co-lead attorney for the sugar farmers, Adam Fox of Squire Sanders, declared, "This is an important win for all American consumers, as well as my clients. Judge Marshall's ruling clears the way to allow this lawsuit to proceed so that we can assure an end to the false advertising and make the agribusiness giants behind it answer for their misconduct. We look forward to taking the next steps in this important case."