Office of the Vermont Attorney General

FDA Considers Changes to Maple Labeling Guidance

June 20, 2018

Contact: Christopher J. Curtis, Chief Public Protection Division, (802) 828-5586

More than 3,000 Vermonters and others wrote to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to express their views on a proposed “added sugar” guidance. The guidance 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. Today, the FDA disclosed it is considering changes to its guidance on the issue in light of public input. According to its “Constituent Updates:”

“FDA recognizes the complexity of this issue and is grateful for the feedback it has received, including more than 3,000 comments received during the comment period on the draft guidance that closed on June 15. The agency plans to take these comments into consideration to swiftly formulate a revised approach that makes key information available to consumers in a workable way…

The feedback that FDA has received is that the approach laid out in the draft guidance does not provide the clarity that the FDA intended. It is important to FDA that consumers are able to effectively use the new Nutrition Facts label to make informed, healthy dietary choices. The agency looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution.”

On June 4, 2018, Attorney General Donovan held a news conference calling on the FDA to exempt single-ingredient maple and honey producers, or provide other options when the new rule takes effect. And, he unveiled a webpage that allowed Vermonters to comment on the proposed guidance. Since then the FDA public comment website was flooded with citizen comments with public sentiment overwhelmingly supporting reconsideration of the proposed “added sugar” rule and guidance. The public comment period closed on June 15, 2018.

“I applaud the FDA’s decision to hear Vermonters on this issue,” said Donovan. “We all agree that consumers have a right to know what is in their food, especially when it comes to their health and safety,” he said. “And, we also agree that common sense is a virtue. That’s why I’m pleased to learn that Commissioner Gottlieb and our federal partners at the FDA are considering revising the guidance in light of the more than 3,000 comments submitted by concerned Vermonters and other Americans.”

Earlier this month, the Attorney General sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb requesting the proposed guidance for maple, honey, and certain cranberry products 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.

Donovan also thanked Vermont’s congressional delegation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture for their advocacy for Vermont consumers and maple producers and announced that his office will keep Vermonters updated on the proposed federal rules and guidance at: https://www.uvm.edu/consumer/100-pure-maple-and-democracy. “This appears to be progress, said Donovan. “We hope there will be a final resolution soon. And, my invitation to the Commissioner to come to Vermont to sample our 100% pure maple products still stands,” he said.

Last modified: June 20, 2018