Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Donovan Calls On FDA To Amend Maple Guidance

June 4, 2018

Contact: Chris Curtis, Chief of Public Protection, (802) 828-5586

AG: FDA Rule Requiring 100% Pure Maple Products to Disclose “Added Sugar” is Confusing; AG Offers New Web Tool Allowing Vermonters to Comment

Flanked by maple producers at a Vermont sugarbush in Richmond, Attorney General T.J. Donovan called on the federal government to amend its proposed guidance on a rule that would require maple and honey producers to declare “added sugar” content on their labels – even for 100% pure single-ingredient products like maple and honey. Donovan said single-ingredient producers should be exempt, or have other options, when the new rule takes effect. And, he unveiled a new webpage that allows Vermonters to comment on the proposed rule and guidance.

“Today, we’re calling on the FDA to listen to Vermonters,” said Donovan. “I support clear and transparent labeling, and I support common sense. That is why I stand with Vermont’s sugarmakers to ask the FDA to amend its guidance so that consumers are not led to believe that anything is added to their 100% pure Vermont maple or honey products.”

The Attorney General sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb requesting the proposed guidance for maple, honey and certain cranberry products to include one or more of the following allowances:

  1. Exempt single-ingredient sugars like maple and honey; and/or
  2. Allow single-ingredient sugars like maple and honey to simply declare the amount of “total sugar” instead of using the term “added sugar”; and/or
  3. Allow single ingredient sugars like maple and honey to declare “0” or “N/A” (“not applicable”) in response to the “added sugar” labeling requirement.

Local sugarmakers turned out in support of the Attorney General’s initiative. “Sugarmakers all over Vermont work hard every spring to produce 100% pure maple syrup,” said Roger Brown of Slopeside Syrup, who hosted the Attorney General at its sugarbush in Richmond. “The idea that we would ‘add sugar’ to our syrup is, frankly, offensive,” he said. “Sugarmakers rely on clear labeling to underscore the purity of pure maple syrup as compared to knock-off imitations…  Labeling mandated by the FDA implying adulteration would be an unnecessary disaster.  Cheap, ubiquitous, highly processed corn syrup is an ongoing public health crisis.  Pure maple syrup is not,” said Brown.

Donovan also announced that his office has created a new webpage where Vermonters can go to comment on the proposed federal rules at: https://www.uvm.edu/consumer/100-pure-maple-and-democracy.  “The only thing sweeter than 100% pure maple syrup is democracy,” said Donovan. “I encourage Vermonters to contact the FDA and tell them 100% pure means just that: nothing added.”

 

“Vermonters have stood behind maple for generations and sugarmakers need their support again,” said Brown. “Please tell the FDA what every Vermonter already knows – pure maple syrup has no added sugar.”

Donovan also invited FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to Vermont to meet local sugarmakers and sample Vermont’s 100% pure maple and honey products.

Last modified: June 13, 2018