FDA Nixes Proposed 'Added Sugar' Label For Maple Syrup And Honey

Sep 7, 2018

After announcing earlier this summer that they would reconsider a proposed "added sugar" label on maple syrup and honey, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially decided to scrap that plan.

The FDA's decision was announced Thursday in a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. He referenced the thousands of comments that the FDA received about the proposal, which was put forth as part of a broader Nutrition Facts label overhaul.

Gottlieb noted the FDA now plans a revision in its final guidance:

"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. We are not considering changes to the required percent daily value for these products, including for products like pure honey and maple syrup. We believe that such a solution strikes the balance of addressing producer concerns that their products could be perceived as being economically adulterated while still informing consumers on how these products contribute to their daily added sugar intake."

Gottlieb added that the FDA expects to issue its final guidance in early 2019.

The draft guidance that called for the "added sugar" label for maple syrup and honey was first put forth in February. It was met with vocal resistance from the state's maple syrup producers, and even members of Vermont's congressional delegation.

Back in June, the Vermont Attorney General's Office had urged Vermonters to submit comments about the proposal. In a press release Friday, Attorney General TJ Donovan applauded the FDA's recent decision.

“This is a victory for common sense and democracy,” Donovan said in his statement. “I want to thank the hundreds of Vermonters who stood up for 100% pure maple products. Your voice made a difference."

Amanda Voyer, the executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association, was also quoted in the AG's release voicing support for the change in the FDA's plans: “This is good news for maple producers and consumers. 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."

Emma Marvin is one of the owners of Butternut Mountain Farm, a large-scale maple producer based in Lamoille County. She told VPR that the FDA announcement is "a great step in the right direction."

"I’m optimistic, with a little bit of caution, because we’ve been in this process for a while," Marvin said. "The new Nutrition Facts panel rule came out in 2016 and, since its publication, we’ve been working to address the issue of how ‘added sugars’ would be applied to pure maple syrup packages."

Update 5:35 p.m. This post was updated to include comment from Marvin.