IDFA has joined a group of food manufacturers, sweetener suppliers and another association in offering strong support for the continued use of “evaporated cane juice” on food product labels. The organizations, including two IDFA members, filed extensive joint comments last week with the Food and Drug Administration, hoping to counter the confusion that has existed since FDA released draft guidance on the term five years ago.
In the draft guidance, FDA aimed to clear up misrepresentations about the percentage of juice that was included in products, suggesting companies use the term “dried cane syrup” instead of “evaporated cane juice.” Although the sweetener and food industries had been accurately using the phrase for years, the draft guidance inadvertently caused more confusion among consumers and created a backlash against companies that continued to use “evaporated cane juice” as an ingredient.
“By failing to recognize the history of the use of the terms ‘evaporated,’ ‘juice’ and ‘cane’ in the sugar industry and the fact that those terms serve to describe the basic nature of the ingredient in a manner consistent with over 100 years of cane processing, FDA created the potential for a significant degree of chaos among sweetener providers, food manufacturers, retailers and consumers,” the organizations said.
To date, at least 52 class action suits have been filed, claiming companies and FDA are misleading consumers. Some of those cases have been delayed waiting for FDA to issue final guidance.
In March, FDA reopened the comment period to gather more information in preparation for finalizing its guidance. IDFA and the other organizations joined together to provide well-documented examples of the long-time and accurate use of the term “evaporated cane juice” by many sweetener suppliers and users.
In the comments, they ask FDA to issue final guidance that declares “evaporated cane juice” as the common or usual name of the ingredient and to set an effective date of no earlier than one year from the date of final guidance to allow time for companies that had changed their labels to make adjustments. They also urged FDA to confirm that it will not consider products to be misbranded if the labels identify the ingredient as a form of “cane juice,” “cane sirup” or “cane sugar.”
In addition to IDFA, the filers were Amy’s Kitchen, Inc.; Chobani, LLC; Clover-Stornetta Farms, Inc.; Domino Foods, Inc.; Florida Crystals Food Corporation; Grocery Manufacturers Association; KING LLC; Late July Snacks LLC; Pacific Foods of Oregon, Inc.; and Wholesome Sweeteners, Inc.
Member with questions may contact Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, at firstname.lastname@example.org.