Sugar is bad for you, and seeing it listed in a product’s ingredient’s list is a serious turn-off. That’s why food manufacturers like to use “healthier” ingredients, for example evaporated cane juice. It sounds much healthier than table sugar, but the sad truth is that evaporated cane juice is just a fancy word for sugar.
Several years ago, the FDA issued a toothless draft guidance on the matter. It acknowledged the fact that manufactures were using the term in a way that could mislead consumers, but did not take the extra step to stop them from doing so:
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.
As a result, many companies have continued to use the term. Lawsuits by consumers have ensued, as FoodNavigator reports. Earlier this year, the FDA indicated that it may change its mind on the matter. In the meantime, consumers confusion continues to play to food companies’ advantage.
Evaporated cane juice is simply cane sugar. They contain the same amount of calories. Evaporated cane juice confers no additional nutrients or antioxidants.
There is one difference though. Evaporated cane juice is derived from sugar cane, not from beets. Approximately half the sugar supply in the US is from beets, and most of them are genetically modified. Sugar cane is not genetically modified. Manufacturers could easily state that they are using cane sugar, but again, cane juice sounds healthier.