Sugar and corn syrup producers settle their $1.1 billion false advertising lawsuit.

  • As recently covered on this blog, sugar and corn syrup producers have been waging a high-stakes courtroom battle centering around an allegedly false advertising campaign run by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) that promoted high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as nutritionally identical to sugar.  Some anticipated a jury verdict in December.
  • Just days after the sugar industry concluded its case-in-chief, the parties reached a settlement agreement to end the case.  The terms of the settlement agreement remain confidential, and it is unclear which specific factors (if any) prompted the mid-trial agreement.
  • The abrupt and quiet end to this case means a lost opportunity for a considered verdict that would have had to address the truthfulness and accuracy of the advertising claims at issue, including a determination regarding whether HFCS is nutritionally equivalent to sugar.  Although such a verdict would not necessarily have settled this ongoing debate, it would have established significant precedent and likely would have prompted additional lawsuits regardless of which side prevailed.  The joint statement issued by the parties regarding the settlement was neutral in tone, stating that both industries “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.”  Although this particular battle has concluded, we suspect that the war over sugar — and in particular, “added sugar” — is far from over.