Monday, April 04, 2016

Maple producers say some products falsely claim to contain maple syrup, use artificial sweeteners

Maple producers say many store products claiming to contain maple syrup are actually made with artificial sweeteners, Sarah Schweitzer reports for The Boston Globe(Globe photo by Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist: different grades of maple syrup on display)

"Some 31 U.S. senators and congressional representatives have now gotten behind maple producers across the region and are demanding action. In a letter delivered last month to the Food and Drug Administration, the lawmakers asked the agency to 'investigate and take action against mis-branded products in interstate commerce," Schweitzer reports. The letter states, "These practices seem to intentionally mislead consumers who get cheap, industrially produced sweeteners and artificial flavors rather than the pure and genuine natural product they believed they have purchased."

Schweitzer writes, "Like few other products, maple syrup comes with a ready-made and compelling marketing message. From its earliest days, it has been touted as a pure product, with its light golden color that runs clear and amber, like sunlight. It is produced with hard, backwoods work, bearing the stamp of authenticity. For a time, in the 19th century, it was held up as a symbol of morality—a product made by free men rather then the slave-produced sugar of the West Indies and elsewhere."

"Protecting the sweetener’s image is key for the industry, which has seen lucrative crops in recent years," Schweitzer writes. "Revenue from maple syrup in the United States totaled $100 million in 2015. The issue has been especially inflaming in Vermont, where some 4.5 million maple trees yielded 1.4 million gallons of maple syrup in 2015—40.7 percent of the nation’s total, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Massachusetts produced 75,000 gallons, Maine 553,000 gallons, and New Hampshire 154,000."

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