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Published on October 19th, 2012 | by Becky Striepe

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Is Evaporated Cane Juice a Misleading Ingredient?





what is evaporated cane juice?

Have you ever read an ingredients list and seen “evaporated cane juice” on the label? A California lawsuit is calling this ingredient into question.

Katie Kane brought a class action lawsuit against Chiobani yogurt, claiming that they use evaporated cane juice on their labels to disguise the sugar in their product. The case hasn’t been decided yet, but the outcome could set a precedent for how companies label this ingredient.

What is Evaporated Cane Juice?

Unlike crystalized sugar, evaporated cane juice is a liquid sweetener that still contains a small amount of the molasses that comes from cooking down sugar cane. Instead of refining it like white sugar – which often involves using bone char – evaporated cane just is what it says it is: the liquid remaining after evaporating most of the moisture from cane juice.

What I like about evaporated cane juice is that when companies use this instead of white sugar, you can be sure that you’re getting vegan sugar. Like I mentioned above, white sugar is often refined using bone char. Bone char also is what it says it is: it’s bone. Vegans don’t want any bones in our cupcakes.

Since sugar cane – unlike the sugar beets used to make a lot of the white sugar on the market – is not genetically modified, you can also assume that evaporated cane juice is not genetically modified.

Is Evaporated Cane Juice a Confusing Ingredient?

Honestly, until reading about this lawsuit over at The Salt, I had no idea that this term was confusing for anyone, but I guess I can see how it could be and how companies could use it as a way to make their ingredients seem healthier than they are.

For a company like Chiobani, they could be using evaporated cane juice because they want their products to be vegetarian (vegetarians don’t eat bone-processed sugar, either), or they could be using it to mislead consumers. The company defends its choice, of course, but it’s hard to guess what their real motivation is.

What do you guys think about evaporated cane juice? Do you think it’s a misleading ingredient or a handy way to tell if there’s bone in that cup of yogurt?

Image Credit: Sugar Cane photo via Shutterstock

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zach

    Interesting. Surprised about the lawsuit. If the prosecutors win, that would set one huge precedent and unleash a fury of suits, i imagine. Don’t see how they could legitimately win, though.

    Think you did an awesome job of teasing out the diff btw evaporated cane juice and sugar here. Do you happen to know if all (or most) white sugar is processed using bone char?

    Thanks for the post!

    • Becky Striepe

      Thanks, Zach! Yeah, most commercial white sugar is processed with bone to whiten it. Here’s a list of sugars that don’t and more deets about bone char:

      http://www.veganproducts.org/sugar.html

  • CurvyQ

    This lawsuit seems frivolous. As a vegan, I usually research product names that seem strange, to find the origin. It’s pretty easy these days to just type the ingredient into Google. I’m sure there is even an app for that.

    People need to take responsibility for what they’re putting into their bodies. Companies need to label it but it’s our decision to shove it in our faces.

  • Teri

    I think for me what it comes down to is the effects of sugar on the body, What i’m curious about is how evaporated cane juice is assimilated in the body compared to refined sugar. Do you know anything about this?

    Here is a quote from an article with an opinion about it:
    “VanDien doesn’t agree with the manufacturers who say a sweetener can be nutritious. “Some people will say, ‘Yes, but sugar is carbs, and carbs are nutrients. So, some sweeteners are nutritious.’ But I’d say to that that while you may be getting some nutrient, there’s no such thing as a nutrient-dense sweetener. And along with it, you’re getting empty calories. Sugar, for too many people,” says the nutritionist, “is replacing nutrient dense foods. And most people in this country don’t need empty calories. They need nutrient dense foods.”
    and the link to the entire read:
    http://www.mcvitamins.com/health%20opponents/cane-juice.htm

    I guess bottom line is do you really want any sweetener in your body. As for myself I’m trying to kick a sugar addiction and don’t think any sweetener would help me do that.

    Thanks for the article! Good read :)

  • Aimee B.

    I don’t see how there really could be any confusion about what evaporated cane juice is. I don’t think Chobani is trying to hide anything. Evaporated cane juice can be found in many products these days. What I do believe is that this is a frivolous lawsuit. People always seem to be suing for something these days. We live in a very litigious society. :/

    As a consumer, I believe firmly in truth in labeling. I have bought Chobani in the past. All the ingredients on the yogurt container are label and none are “weird” or misleading in any way.

    I really hope this person does not win. It would be a miscarriage of justice if she did.

  • Andrea @ vibrant wellness journal

    Though I don’t agree with the lawsuit, I do think that this labeling of sugar is slightly misleading. This ingredient didn’t really appear on labels until fairly recently, and I think it reflects a trend towards healthier eating- even if it’s an incorrect assumption of ‘healthier’. And I agree with the nutritionist- sugar is sugar and is probably not so great for our bodies. Coconut sugar is a great replacement for ECJ, or sucanat, it’s other name.

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