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Washington, D.C. – Consumers should be able to tell whether soft drinks contain high fructose corn syrup or natural sugar, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action will ensure that happens.

The FDA is taking action to enforce correct labeling of soft drink sweeteners. Labels identifying specific sweeteners in soft drinks are essential for consumers to make accurate decisions for their health, according to Enzi.

“There is a difference between corn sweetener and sugar. Health-conscious consumers need the right labeling information to make the most informed decisions,” said Enzi. “The FDA is taking the right steps to ensure and enforce rules that protect consumers and allow them to make proper health decisions.”

The soft drink industry asked the FDA to allow them to label beverages with an “and/or” declaration of the sweeteners used, thus allowing them to be unspecific about whether the product contains fructose or sugar. The FDA allowed the “and/or” declaration while it was considering their request, but this week sent a letter to soft drink manufacturers letting them know it intends to require specific labeling.

Enzi wrote a letter to Lester Crawford, Acting Commissioner of the FDA, on May 20, 2005 urging the agency to require better labeling of soft drinks containing corn syrup.

“It has been reported that the extra concentrated high fructose corn sweetener used in soft drinks and many other bottled drinks may play a role in obesity and other health problems,” said Enzi. “Soft drinks have been poorly labeled for years with ambiguous information on the sweeteners they contain. Consumers should be able to tell if their drinks are almost exclusively sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or pure sugar.”