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Pingree Questions FDA Commissioner on Maple Syrup Labeling

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) questioned today the Commissioner of the Food of Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, on nutrition facts labels on single-ingredient products, such as maple syrup and honey, during a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. 
“The average consumer sees 'added sugar’ and rightly thinks that an additional sweetener has been added to the food product. I think consumers deserve to have this information so they can make informed decisions. But I think it’s misleading for a jar of 100% pure honey or maple syrup to label its sugars under the 'added sugar' category when nothing has been added to those products," Pingree said. "FDA should revise its guidance to explicitly exclude pure honey and maple syrup from using added sugars labels.”

As part of FDA’s broader changes to the nutritional facts label, the agency has released guidance requiring single-ingredient products, such as maple syrup and honey, to list their sugars on the nutrition facts label under “added sugar.” This could lead consumers to believe that these naturally occurring products have added ingredients when they do not.  The draft guidance can be found here.  FDA is accepting public comments on the draft guidance until May 1, 2018.  Comments may be submitted here.
While Pingree supports efforts to empower consumers with information about their food, this “added sugar” guidance increases consumer confusion and could have adverse effects on farmers who produce maple syrup and honey.  Maine ranks third in the nation for maple syrup production and has the highest maple syrup yield per tap.  Maple syrup contributes about $30 million to Maine’s economy annually.

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