The package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans calls the product “energizing jelly beans,” and says it provides “quick energy for sports performance.”
Chances are, you’re well aware that the sweet snack is more of a treat than a diet staple. But would your thoughts change if the jellybeans in question were marketed as a “sports performance” aid—and didn’t explicitly list “sugar” as one of its ingredients?
That’s the issue at hand for one California woman. Earlier this year, Jessica Gomez filed a lawsuit in California state court against Jelly Belly, saying she was misled into buying its Sports Beans, Forbes reports.
The package of Jelly Belly Sport Beans calls the product “energizing jelly beans,” and says it provides “quick energy for sports performance.” It lists carbs, electrolytes, and vitamins B and C on its front panel.
What’s more, the product lists “evaporated cane juice” as an ingredient on the back—not its common name, sugar, according to her lawsuit. (A current search on the product’s website shows it now lists “cane sugar” as its first ingredient, though a nutritional label of the product on Amazon still shows “evaporated cane juice.)
As a result, the woman claims she was misled into the buying the product, and that it contains more sugar than she thought.
Still, the nutritional facts on the package listed the sugar content as 17 grams. (Jelly Belly’s website shows it as 19 grams of added sugar.)
So, the product’s nutritional labels aren’t hiding its sugar content. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems on board with the fact that listing sugar as “evaporated cane juice” isn’t exactly on the up and up.
In fact, in May of 2016, the FDA released final guidance on sweeteners derived from sugar cane, saying that they shouldn’t be listed on labels as “evaporated cane juice.” That’s because the FDA views the term as “false or misleading,” since it doesn’t reveal that the sweetener’s basic properties are those of sugar.
According to Forbes, Jelly Belly says the claim is “nonsense,” and that no reasonable consumer could be deceived by the labeling, since the sugar content was listed on its nutritional facts label.
If you’re concerned about how much sugar you’re taking in, check the nutritional facts panel to see how much your product really contains. As for the ingredients label, be on the lookout for other names for added sugar, which include corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, and maple syrup, the FDA says.