Pursuant to consideration of public comments submitted on its October 2009 draft guidance document (see our prior article here), FDA today announced (81 Fed. Reg. 33,538) the availability of its finalized guidance document, Guidance for Industry: Ingredients Declared as Evaporated Cane Juice (May 2016).
The guidance document essentially conveys FDA’s view that sweeteners derived from sugar cane should not be declared on food labels as “evaporated cane juice.” FDA believes 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. The guidance recommends that ingredients currently labeled as “evaporated cane juice” be relabeled to use the term “sugar,” optionally accompanied by a truthful, non-misleading descriptor to distinguish the ingredient from other cane-based sweeteners.
If your company presently markets a food with “evaporated cane juice” listed as an ingredient, we encourage prompt action to change the designation. FDA would not object to the use of stickers to make this change until the next regularly scheduled label printing. A substantial number of class action lawsuits already have been filed, largely in California, against food manufacturers under state consumer protection laws, contending that the manufacturer misled consumers by using “evaporated cane juice” on the label. FDA’s finalized guidance document reasonably will encourage the plaintiffs’ bar to target additional uses of the ingredient name in the marketplace.