by Marion Nestle
Apr 8 2014

Evaporated cane juice: Sugar by any other name…

This question came in from Lourdes, a reader:

Would you please comment on these cases and the decisions regarding the issue [evaporated cane juice, apparently].

Happy to.

Evaporated cane juice is the food industry’s latest attempt to convince you that crystallizing sugar by this particular method will make you think it is:

  • Natural and healthy.
  • Better for you than table sugar.
  • Much better for you than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Maybe, but it’s still sugar.

Pushed by food companies to let “evaporated cane juice” be used on food labels, the FDA in 2009 issued one of those non-binding guidance documents it loves to do.

Over the past few years the term “evaporated cane juice” has started to appear as an ingredient on food labels, most commonly to declare the presence of sweeteners derived from sugar cane syrup. However, FDA’s current policy is that sweeteners derived from sugar cane syrup should not be declared as “evaporated cane juice” because that term falsely suggests that the sweeteners are juice…. FDA considers such representations to be false and misleading…because they fail to reveal the basic nature of the food and its characterizing properties (i.e., that the ingredients are sugars or syrups) as required by 21 CFR 102.5.

The FDA opened the matter up to public comment last month.  In the meantime, evaporated cane juice is in the courts, where more and more food regulation seems to be taking place days except that judges are balking.

It’s a perfect Catch 22: The courts won’t rule until the FDA issues regulations.  The FDA won’t issue regulations while the matter is in the courts.

The bottom line?  As NPR puts it, “Sugar by any other name tastes just as sweet — and has just as many calories.”

To repeat: Evaporated cane juice is sugar.  Cane sugar is sugar.  All forms of sugar have calories, even when Kale flavored (thanks to Jill Richardson for sending this along).

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Comments

  • Genie Maybanks
  • April 8, 2014
  • 12:39 pm

I’m pretty sure that the “kale flavored” soda was from April Fool’s Day. Nearly every company with a sense of humor posted a doctored picture of kale-flavored flag-ship products.

Yes, even evaporate kale juice!

  • Your Meds Delivered
  • April 9, 2014
  • 4:10 am

I’m pretty sure that the “kale flavored” soda was from April Fool’s Day. Nearly every company with a sense of humor posted a doctored picture of kale-flavored flag-ship products.(Genie Maybanks)

True, this is sugar by another name. However, evaporated cane sugar is likely better than ‘sugar’ in the US, as the latter is probably gmo, beet sugar. Thoughts?

  • Hans Chaplin
  • April 10, 2014
  • 12:39 am

I never tought that evaporated cane juice is any better than usual sugar but it is really interesting to hear that the food industry uses labels like that to make the consumer confident.

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  • Renee Jones
  • April 25, 2014
  • 9:35 pm

It’s not a doctored photo. I took that specific picture. There were several six-packs of the stuff sitting on the shelf at my local Sprouts.

  • Renee Jones
  • April 25, 2014
  • 9:37 pm

It’s not a doctored photo. I took that specific photo at my local Sprouts shortly before it was sent to this blog by my friend (Jill Richardson).

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