I’d imagine it takes a lot to get Vermont’s maple syrup farmers riled up. They live in a beautiful state and get to spend their days shaded by the leaves of majestic maple trees; if they’re not zenned out, I don’t know who is. But a new labelling rule from the U.S. Food And Drug Administration has got these normally peaceful Vermonters hot and bothered. You see, it concerns their precious maple syrup.
The FDA is expected to soon issue new labelling guidelines that would require maple syrup and honey products to include “added sugar” on their labels. According to the Burlington Free Press, this doesn’t sit well with maple-syrup and honey producers, who say their sticky wares are naturally sweet, and that the phrase “added sugar” would confuse consumers. Naturally, Vermont’s lone U.S. Representative, Peter Welch, has their back: “There are no added sugars. Maple is a pure product,” he told the Free Press. “And added sugars to a consumer denotes corn syrup or some other added elements that are not natural.” This is how I would interpret that label, especially given that some maple syrup bottles contain high-fructose corn syrup rather than the pure stuff.
It seems the FDA is attempting to distinguish between the naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, and dairy, and added sugars in desserts and sweets. In response to syrup producers’ concerns, the FDA has said perhaps maple syrup and honey makers could add a symbol after “added sugars” that would lead consumers to another area on the label explaining these sugars are naturally derived from the tree sap or from bees. But that asterisk isn’t good enough, some say.
Roger Brown of Slopestyle Maple in Richmond, Vermont, calls the expected FDA guidelines “well-intentioned federal regulation that is totally illogical when applied in this context.” Not to be alarmist, but given climate change’s effect on maple sapling growth, this could all be a moot point in a few decades.