NEW YORK – What defines sugar? It’s getting to be a stickier question.

The Sugar Association is accusing the makers of high fructose corn syrup of trying to candy-coat their image by calling their product a “sugar.”

The Corn Refiners Association is firing back by calling the accusations another attempt to censor its efforts to explain to the public that high fructose corn syrup is, well, a form of sugar.

The latest twist in the spat came after a recent medical study prompted headlines such as “Sugar can make you dumb.” The Sugar Association issued a release last week noting the substance used in the study was actually fructose, not its sugar.

Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, says the Sugar Association’s press release “seems to be an effort to silence the campaign” to educate consumers.

The corn association is awaiting a federal decision on having the sweetening agent renamed “corn sugar” on nutrition labels.

The Sugar Association contends high fructose corn syrup is chemically distinct and derived from a different source than sugar.