The battle of the sweeteners keeps getting stickier.
The nation's biggest producers of high-fructose corn syrup are countersuing the Sugar Association, saying the group misleads consumers by suggesting its sweetener is to blame for obesity and other health issues.
The claim filed Tuesday is in response to a lawsuit filed last year, which accuses high-fructose corn syrup makers of what it calls false advertising.
The Corn Refiners Association had been running a marketing campaign stating that its syrup is actually a form of sugar and has the same nutritional value as the white, granular table sugar consumers are familiar with.
It has called the Sugar Association's lawsuit a "silencing campaign" against its efforts to educate consumers.
Separately, the Corn Refiners Association in 2010 had also submitted an application to U.S. Food and Drug Administration to have its sweetening agent renamed "corn sugar" on nutrition labels, given the negative reputation high-fructose corn syrup in recent years.
That request was denied by the FDA in May. The agency said that it defines sugar as a solid, dried and crystallized food — not a syrup.
High-fructose corn syrup came into the U.S. market in the late 1970s and 1980s. The product is used widely in cereals, sodas and other packaged food and drinks. Despite the name, the Corn Refiners Association says the most common forms of it are about half fructose and half glucose.
The American Medical Association has said it wants more research, but that there's not enough evidence to restrict the use of the syrup. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which advocates for food safety, has said that there's no evidence that the sweetener is any worse nutritionally than sugar.
The counterclaims were filed on behalf of Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Ingredion Inc. and Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas Inc. in U.S. District Court Central District of California.