FDA to industry: Stop hiding sugar behind terms like ‘evaporated cane juice’

Now that federal dietary guidelines have identified excessive added sugar as a health concern, the Food and Drug Administration is taking a series of steps to bring it out of hiding. Not only will we see new changes to the nutrition labels, but FDA also is directing processed food makers to stop using euphemisms like “evaporated cane juice”. 

Our executive director, Jim Krieger, explained to Quartz reporter Chase Purdy that these moves are as welcome as they are overdue:

“This long-awaited change represents a real victory for consumers and their health,” said Jim Krieger, director of the non-profit group Healthy Food America, in a statement. “The science is clear that added sugars, which today appear in 68 percent of packaged food and beverages, are a key contributor to rising rates of diabetes and liver, heart and dental disease.”

The new labels will make it clear for parents, for example, that fruit-flavored drinks are loaded with enough added sugar to meet or exceed their kids’ recommended daily limit, helping to counter industry efforts to market phony fruit drinks as healthy for kids.   

The FDA’s new guidance for the food industry on evaporated cane juice will also make it more difficult for marketers to mislead the public about sugar:

“FDA’s view that sweeteners derived from sugar cane should not be declared on food labels as ‘evaporated cane juice.’ The 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.”

That’s one down, but as New York Times columnist Margot Sanger-Katz pointed out, the food industry is hiding added sugar behind a number of different aliases such as agave juice, mizuame, and drimol. There are plenty more where that came from:

 popkin.JPG

Too much sugar is hiding in too many products under too many names but Big Sugar keeps harming our nation’s health for profit.  The Sugar Association said the new FDA ruling on nutrition labels was not “grounded in science” but as New York University health expert Marion Nestle put it:

“The Sugar Association does not really care about science. It cares about what will happen to sales if people read labels and reject products with added sugars. This, of course, is one of the purposes of Added Sugars on food labels.”

As reported in the Guardian:

“Sugar, by now, is well known to be the enemy of good health. Few outside of the food and soft drinks industry argue over that any more.”


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