Did you hear the one about “evaporated cane juice”?

Food LabelIn the US last year a lawsuit was filed against a particular yoghurt company over the use of evaporated cane juice in their ingredients list.

So what is evaporated cane juice?? Drum roll please… SUGAR! (yep you guessed it) and really not juice at all as cane doesn’t ‘juice’ but that’s a minor detail. The complaint was that the yoghurt company’s “no added sugar” assurance was wrong or more technically in violation of federal law.

When asked in the FAQ’s section of their website if one of their kids’ yoghurts had extra sugar the answer read: “No way! Just because X product is made for kids doesn’t mean that we need to add extra sugar…”

This has now been removed and the amended post still mentions evaporated cane juice as a sweetener but they’ve dropped the “no added sugar” assurance.

Luckily the use of the term evaporated cane juice hasn’t taken off in Australia and probably won’t due to more stringent labelling rules but it got us thinking about the different terms we’ve seen on food labels to describe sugar.

Here’s some of the ones we look out for:

  1. Agave Nectar – very popular over the last year. A smaller amount can be used because it is 1.5 times sweeter than normal sugar. Normally 80% – 90% fructose.
  2. Brown Sugar – less processed and unrefined so some may think this is a healthier alternative to white sugar. Unfortunately not. Brown sugar is still 50% fructose.
  3. Cane Crystals – this is the cane sugar liquid crystallised, and still has 50% fructose (hang on, isn’t that evaporated cane juice??).
  4. Castor Sugar – a fine sugar which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. It’s very popular for baking because it dissolves easily. You can also get a finer version often called confectioners’ or icing sugar. It’s all sucrose just finer.
  5. Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – made from the starch of corn. Used more in the US but increasingly seen in the Australian market. At least 50% fructose, can go up 55% fructose for some HFCS. Scarily there are stories of a new HFCS on the market that is 60% fructose! We’ll keep an eye out for more news on that.
  6. Demerara Sugar – unrefined sugar with larger crystals. It is, sigh, once again 50% fructose.
  7. Fruit Sugar – That’s 100% fructose!!! (feel slightly dizzy thinking of that much fructose).
  8. Fruit Juice Concentrate – the liquid from fruit is heat treated and evaporated to form the concentrate. Depending on the fruit used, it can be 50% – 70% fructose.
  9. Golden Syrup – is a pale liquid sugar that is the by-product when crystallising cane sugar, 40% fructose.
  10. Honey – about 40% fructose.
  11. Maple Syrup – made from the sap of maple trees. Has a slighter lower fructose content than most table sugars but still has between 30% – 40%.

We’ve only scratched the surface, there are plenty more out there.

What “creative” terms have you seen for sugar on ingredient lists?

2 thoughts on “Did you hear the one about “evaporated cane juice”?

    • Hi Carollyn, thanks for the question. When we say sugar we mean the crystalised white stuff that gets put into coffee. Technically it’s known as Sucrose but commonly known as “sugar”. Sucrose/sugar is made up of half glucose and half fructose. It’s the fructose half that we avoid as it has been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, increased risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, and dementia. And it’s really addictive that’s why it is so hard to stop at just one biscuit or to eat sugar “in moderation”. So we avoid sugars (or sucrose) such as white, brown, raw and rapadura along with honey, golden syrup, maple syrup and agave as they all contain fructose. We still however enjoy glucose and lactose. Hope that helps, for more information check out https://thesugarbreakup.com/quit-sugar/ there some great links to related research and articles.

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