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June 14, 2018

Maine delegation fights FDA on 'sugar added' label for maple products

Courtesy / Office of U.S. Sen. Angus King U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, testifies on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, that a proposal to add the label "added sugar" to natural honey and maple products was inaccurate and would harm those industries in Maine and nationwide.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, told his colleagues in the Senate on Wednesday that adding the label “added sugar” to natural honey and maple products would hurt the honey and maple industries in Maine and nationwide.

King said the yet-to-be-finalized federal requirement ignores the fact that no sugar is actually added to either product.

According to a news release on his website, King is urging the Food and Drug Administration to exempt honey and maple products from the “added sugar” label.

“The FDA states that the change is meant to help consumers be aware of the amount of sugar they are adding to their daily diet, but maple and honey producers worry this regulation could easily be mistaken by consumers to refer to sugar added after harvesting, which is not the case for pure, single ingredient foods like maple and honey,” the release stated.

“The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing food labels,” King said on the Senate floor. “They want to make them more understandable. But there is a place where the proposed rule of the FDA goes off the rails, if you will, and that involves maple syrup and honey, which the agency is suggesting should have on its label ‘added sugar.’ Well, maple syrup and honey essentially are sugar … and to add the phrase ‘added sugar’ to maple syrup and [honey] makes no sense and is, indeed, confusing to the consumer.”

Courtesy / Office of U.S. Sen. Angus King
A maple tree being tapped on the farm of Kinney's Sugarhouse in Knox.

News Center Maine reported that maple syrup producers in Maine are furious over the proposed change.

"It's just all-around a lie. We don't add any sugar,” MaryAnne Kinney, a state legislator who with her husband runs Kinney Sugarhouse in Knox told News Center Maine. In testimony against the regulation on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine District 1, said the label would be misleading.

“I think there are a lot of potential problems here,” Pingree told the station.

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