FDA to Reconsider Label Changes That Would Have Hurt Maine Maple Syrup and Honey Producers
Washington, D.C.—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) today applauded the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to reconsider “added sugar” labeling on pure maple syrup and honey packaging. A member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which oversees discretionary funding for the USDA, Pingree has openly pushed the agency to change the requirement.
“I appreciate the FDA’s efforts to help consumers make more informed choices, including by spelling out how much sugar is added to the food they eat. But requiring an added sugar label on honey and maple syrup—when, in fact, no sugar has been added to their contents—would have been confusing and misleading. The label would have eroded consumers’ confidence in these pure, natural products,” said Pingree. “The label was also an affront of sorts to producers in Maine, who take great pride and care in the purity of what they bottle. I applaud FDA for listening to their feedback and deciding to reconsider. In the end, I hope it exempts maple syrup and honey from the added sugars requirement.”
Pingree Vocal on Issue
Pingree shared her concerns about the proposed "added sugar" labeling rules for maple syrup and honey—and those of Maine producers—directly with FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on multiple occasions, including an appropriations hearing in April (video below).
She also successfully worked to include language in the committee-passed FY19 agriculture appropriations bill that would block funding to implement the requirements on single-ingredient products that do not have any added sugars or sweeteners added to the product, such as honey and maple syrup.
Background on the Added Sugars Label
The FDA has released new guidelines for nutrition facts labeling, requiring manufacturers to include the amount of “added sugars” as well “total sugars.” In draft guidance released in February, the FDA proposed that pure, single-ingredient maple syrup and honey had to list all their sugar content as “added sugar” with a footnote that it was naturally occurring. The public comment period for the proposal recently closed.
In an email to Pingree’s office today, the FDA said, “The feedback that FDA has received is that the approach laid out in the draft guidance does not provide the clarity that the Agency intended. It is important to FDA that consumers are able to effectively use the new Nutrition Facts label to make informed, healthy dietary choices. FDA looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution.”
FDA has not yet released a new proposal.