If there’s one rule that I hear often when it comes to purchasing processed foods, it’s the “the first five ingredients are always the ones in largest quantities in the food, so just make sure there’s no sugar listed in those first five ingredients, and you’re good!” rule.

Not so.

When it comes to sugar, the truth is that because sugar can come from so many different sources, a manufacturer could easily split the sugar source up into six different places, and all of them be in small enough quantities that they’re not large enough to be listed in the first five ingredients on the label. Not only that, but what’s the likelihood that you would even be able to identify the sources of sugar on the label? I mean, while we all know what “high fructose corn syrup” and “corn syrup” are, are you familiar with “sorghum syrup?” What do you know about “treacle?” “Acesulfame potassium?”

Here’s an example of what I’m referring to, here:

Because my investigative journalism yielded pretty crappy photography, I’m sure you can’t read that. Nevertheless, I still got notes: That says “sugar, wheat, corn syrup, honey, hydrogenatd soybean oil, salt, caramel color, soy lecithin.” How many different sources of sugar can you spot?

Let’s try another one:

The list reads: “Whole grain corn, corn meal, sugar, corn bran, honey, salt, brown sugar syrup, caramel color, trisodium phosphate, natural flavor, vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) added to preserve freshness.

A while back, Fooducate created a list of the different names that sugar uses to hide in our ingredient lists. The list is pretty exhaustive, but in my mind it was short a few names. Below, is that list compiled by Fooducate, with additions by me.

  • Acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K) / E950 –
    marketed as Sunett / Sweet One (artificial, 0 calories)
  • Agave
  • Agave Nectar
  • Aspartame – marketed as Nutrasweet (artificial, 0 calories)
  • Barbados Sugar
  • Barley Malt
  • Barley Malt Extract
  • Beet Sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Brown sugar syrup
  • Buttered Syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Caramel color
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Crystalline Fructose
  • D-mannose
  • Date sugar
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Evaporated Cane Syrup
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate – ANY juice concentrate – “grape juice concentrate,” “apple juice concentrate,” “pear juice concentrate,” “orange juice concentrate,”
  • Galactose
  • Glucose or glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Granulated sugar
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup (or HFCS)
  • High-maltose corn syrup (or HMCS)
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Mannitol
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Neotame
  • Organic raw sugar
  • Panocha
  • Powdered sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharin
  • Saccharose
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucralose – marketed as Splenda
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose
  • Yellow sugar

There’s also the list of sugar alcohol extracts:

  • xylitol
  • glycol
  • glycerol
  • erythritol
  • threitol
  • arabitol
  • ribitol
  • mannitol
  • sorbitol
  • dulicitol
  • iditol
  • isomalt
  • maltitol
  • lacitiol
  • polyglycitol

Hmmm… am I missing anything else?