NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Pancake enthusiasts know that there’s a big difference between real maple syrup and the Aunt Jemima stuff, which tends to be mainly corn syrup with added flavoring.
Now, a couple of politicians want to make it a felony to brand the latter as the real thing.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) put aside their partisan differences to find something they both agree on: Maple syrup is serious business. The senators represent states that produce large quantities of the stuff, so they’ve proposed a bill to make fraudulently labeling a bottle as maple syrup a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill will be known as the Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement Act – the MAPLE Act, of course.
While sending someone to federal prison for incorrectly labeling a bottle of syrup seems a bit harsh, we can see where the senators are coming from. Their states’ economies partly depend on production of maple syrup, so there’s real economic damage at stake if just anybody can slap a “maple syrup” label on something that doesn’t truly come from a maple tree.
And there seems to be a larger movement afoot to crack down on shady labeling practices. The Federal Trade Commission last year announced new guidelines urging companies to stop marketing their products as “environmentally friendly,” a practice widely known as “greenwashing.” And the U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken steps to ensure that food certified as organic is actually the real thing.
It’s not simply a matter of protecting the maple syrup industry and preserving the value of the brand. It’s also a matter of making sure consumers are told the truth about what they’re buying.
“Fake labeling not only hurts this growing agricultural industry, but also defrauds consumers who have the right to know exactly what they are purchasing,” Collins said in a press release announcing the bill.
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