Donovan, sugarmakers fight FDA labeling proposal

‘Added Sugar’ label called ‘offensive’ 

Flanked by maple producers at a Vermont sugarbush in Richmond on Monday, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan called on the federal government to amend its proposal to require single-ingredient maple and honey producers to declare “added sugar” on their labels.

Donovan said single-ingredient producers should be exempt, or have other options, when the new rule takes effect. He also unveiled a webpage that allows Vermonters to comment on the proposal (

“I support clear and transparent labeling, and I support common sense,” Donovan said. “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 percent pure Vermont maple or honey products.”

Donovan sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb requesting the proposal for maple, honey and certain cranberry products include one or more of the following allowances:

— Exempt single-ingredient sugars like maple and honey

— Allow single-ingredient sugars like maple and honey to declare the amount of “total sugar” instead of using the term “added sugar.”

— Allow single ingredient sugars like maple and honey to declare “0” or “N/A” (“not applicable”) in response to the “added sugar” labeling requirement.

“Sugarmakers all over Vermont work hard every spring to produce 100 percent pure maple syrup,” said Roger Brown of Slopeside Syrup, who hosted Donovan at his sugarbush in Richmond. “The idea that we would ‘add sugar’ to our syrup is, frankly, offensive.”

“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.”

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

“I encourage Vermonters to contact the FDA and tell them 100 percent pure means just that: nothing added,” Donovan said.