Who Added All That Sugar to Maple Syrup?

Vermonters are ticked. It’s time to implement the new Nutrition Facts label and they’re afraid it will give their beloved maple syrup a black eye. The label calls out added sugar. And pure maple sugar is what their syrup is all about. Yesterday, Vermont maple producers and legislators staged an event to protest an FDA requirement to label all the sugar in maple syrup as added sugar.

Added or Natural?

Natural is good, right? But added sugar is bad. So which will it be? All natural or loaded with added sugar? There’s no doubt in the minds of Vermonters. Congressman Peter Welch summed it up:

There are no added sugars. Maple is a pure product. Consumers want pure products. Nothing is more pure than maple syrup.

That sounds simple. But the countervailing view is that this lovely syrup has only one purpose. For adding sweetness – in the form of maple sugar – to your food. It’s 67% maple sugar. So it’s nothing but a source added sugar for your diet.

Consumer Confusion?

According to Welch, consumers think that added sugars are the bad stuff, like corn syrup, that big food companies add to unhealthy junk food. So consumers might think something unnatural has been added to maple syrup if we start telling them it has added sugars.

And by the way, honey producers aren’t too happy with this situation, either. The American Honey Producers Association says:

Honey is a pure sugar with no need for added sugars. So this will mislead the consumer.

By this logic, pure cane sugar would have zero added sugars as well. Who knew that we could weave such a tangled web when we practice not to deceive, but to inform?

Click here and here for more on this sweet dilemma. For perspective on the nutritional qualities of  maple syrup, click here.

Grading the Maple Syrup, photograph © Glass House / flickr

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May 2, 2018