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FDA Guidance: ‘Evaporated Cane Juice’ Is Misleading; Should Be Declared As ‘Sugar’

Washington—Guidance released by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week advises industry of the agency’s view that sweeteners derived from sugar cane, including those derived from sugar cane syrup, should not be declared on food labels as “evaporated cane juice,” but instead should be declared as “sugar,” preceded by one or more truthful, non-misleading descriptors if the manufacturer so chooses.

FDA’s view is that the term “evaporated cane juice” is “false or misleading” because it suggests that the sweetener is fruit or vegetable juice or is made from fruit or vegetable juice, and does not reveal that the ingredient’s basic nature and characterizing properties are those of a sugar.

In October of 2009, FDA had released a draft guidance for industry on the use of the term “evaporated cane juice” on food labels. That draft guidance stated FDA’s view that “evaporated cane juice” is not the common or usual name of any sweetener and that the ingredient in question should instead be declared as “dried cane syrup.”

Two years ago, FDA reopened the comment period on the draft guidance, and requested further comments, data, and information about the basic nature and characterizing properties of the ingredient sometimes declared as “evaporated cane juice,” how this ingredient is produced, and how it compared with other sweeteners.

FDA received numerous comments on the draft guidance. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), whose members utilize a wide variety of sweeteners in dairy products such as flavored milk, yogurt and ice cream, requested FDA’s reconsideration and withdrawal of the draft guidance.

IDFA believes evaporated cane juice “is a distinct and unique ingredient developed to meet the increasing consumer demand for natural and organic food products.” The common and usual name “evaporated cane juice” depicts the basic nature of this cane-derived sweetener, with “no known incidence of consumer confusion.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) also opposed FDA’s draft guidance on evaporated cane juice. GMA believes that “evaporated cane juice” is the appropriate common or usual name for this food.
GMA urged FDA to reconsider its rationale supporting the draft guidance on ingredients declared as evaporated cane juice, and withdraw the draft guidance.

In its comments, WhiteWave Foods concluded that evaporated cane juice is “a distinct and unique ingredient dev

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