NEW YORK — 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 on behalf of Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Ingredion and Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas, is in response to a lawsuit filed last year that accuses high-fructose corn syrup makers of what it says is 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 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to have its sweetening agent renamed "corn sugar" on nutrition labels, given the negative reputation of high-fructose corn syrup in recent years.
The FDA denied that request in May, saying it defines sugar as a solid, dried and crystallized food — not a syrup.
High-fructose corn syrup is used widely in cereals, sodas and other packaged food and drinks.
The American Medical Association has said it wants more research but that there's not enough evidence to restrict use of the syrup. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which advocates for food safety, says there's no evidence the sweetener is any worse nutritionally than sugar.