FDA: ‘Evaporated Cane Juice’ Is Just Sugar, Deal With It

Image courtesy of sara marlowe

What’s “evaporated cane juice”? It’s a sweetener produced from the liquid that comes out of sugar cane when you cut or shred it. However, the Food and Drug Administration notes that it’s also a term that food producers use in ingredients list to avoid using the word “sugar.” The FDA has had enough of this, and issued guidance telling food marketers that they need to just call ECJ what it is: sugar.

The product sold as “evaporated cane juice” is something that you can find on the shelf alongside regular white sugar crystals. To make the product, manufacturers take the liquid derived from sugar cane, filter and clarify it, centrifuge off the molasses, and crystallize the remaining fluid. The sugar that comes in your average 5-pound (or 4-pound) bag or packet is melted and re-crystallized multiple times.

Sweeteners of all kinds will be harder to hide when new nutrition labels that spell out added sugar in a product hit store shelves, but the core questions in the evaporated cane juice is this: is calling the sweetener “evaporated cane juice” deliberately misleading? Is there an actual difference between evaporated cane juice and standard sugar, or does the name simply describe a process for making sugar?

The FDA’s guidance is now out, and it says that food companies should just call the stuff sugar.

“FDA’s view is that such sweeteners should not be declared on food labels as ‘evaporated cane juice’ because that term does not accurately describe the basic nature of the food and its characterizing properties,” the agency explained in its guidance.

While evaporated cane juice might be a slightly different color and texture from standard refined sugar, when tested, it’s still 98-99% sugar. It is okay, the FDA says, to describe the ingredient with a word that doesn’t try to hide the product’s nature. “Cane sugar” is one that they suggest.

‘Evaporated cane juice’ should be declared as ‘sugar,’ says FDA; get ready for the lawsuits, say attorneys [Food Navigator]
Guidance for Industry: Ingredients Declared as Evaporated Cane Juice [FDA]