April 18, 2019

Sweet relief — FDA backs off ‘added sugars’ label for maple

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced this week that 100 percent pure maple products will not be forced to display a standard label declaring “added sugars” on the package.

The FDA had contemplated adding the new requirement during a rule-making process on food labeling.

“This is a victory for common sense and democracy,” Attorney General TJ Donovan said. “I want to thank the hundreds of Vermonters who stood up for 100 percent pure maple products. Your voice made a difference.”

Donovan’s office established a web portal for Vermonters to comment on the proposed “added sugar” labeling guidance. The guidance would have required maple and honey producers to declare “added sugar” content on their labels — even for single-ingredient products like maple and honey.

More than 3,000 Vermonters and others wrote to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to express their views, which overwhelmingly opposed requiring maple producers to declare adding sugar to pure products.

“We’re currently drafting our final guidance, which we anticipate issuing by early next year, well in advance of the January 2020 compliance date for larger firms for the updated Nutrition Facts label. This guidance will provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient ‘packaged as such’ products that does not involve the standard ‘added sugars’ declaration on the Nutrition Facts label,” this week’s FDA announcement said.

Maple producers cheered the development.

“This is good news for maple producers and consumers,” said Amanda Voyer, executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association. “We support clear labeling and disclosure of nutrition facts, and applaud the FDA for clarifying its position. This announcement means that nobody will be confused. 100% pure means just that: nothing added.

“We look forward to a final guidance that reflects this change and supports maple products and the families that put pure maple on the table.”

Donovan’s office will keep Vermonters updated on the final guidance at uvm.edu/consumer/100-pure-maple-and-democracy.

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