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One woman is making headlines for her lawsuit against the now infamous maker of jelly beans, Jelly Belly. Though many might have a hard time believing that the makers of such a silly, sweet, and fun confection could commit fraud and intentionally deceive customers, the evidence for this lawsuit was printed on every single box of one of their novelty products: Jelly Belly Sport.
The confectioner, like so many other food product manufacturers, is alleged to have attempted to trick customers by leaving the word "sugar" off their list of ingredients. Rather than use the common name for the item that consumers vigilantly try to avoid (sugar), Jelly Belly used the misleading phrase "evaporated cane juice" in their list of ingredients.
Despite Jelly Belly vehemently defending their case in the court of public opinion, the law is against them. Pursuant to guidance released by the FDA, companies cannot use the phrase "evaporated cane juice" because the FDA found that it was in fact misleading to consumers.
Jelly Belly's reaction calls the consumer filing suit unreasonable. They claim that no one would be confused by the phrase "evaporated cane juice" because they could look at the Nutritional Facts panel and see that sugar is clearly in the product. However, this begs the question of why Jelly Belly listed "evaporated cane juice" rather than "sugar" or more specifically "evaporate sugar cane juice."
Beware of Hidden Sugar
It is not uncommon for food manufacturers to go to extreme lengths to avoid using the word "sugar," or its evil cousin, "high fructose corn syrup," in ingredient lists. While doing so usually results in poor taste and consumer dissatisfaction, for sugar conscious consumers, those ingredients being listed will lead to the product not being purchased.
In this case, Jelly Belly opted to use the phrase "evaporated cane juice" which is just another way to say sugar. Evaporated juice is nearly an oxymoron, seeing as how the word "juice" implies something is in liquid form, while evaporated implies something in gas or solid form. When sugar cane juice is evaporated, all that is left is sugar.