Members of Vermont's congressional delegation joined maple industry leaders to send a message to federal regulators: keep your labels off our maple syrup.
Rep. Peter Welch says the Food and Drug Administration has a new regulation requiring maple syrup to be labeled as containing "added sugars" — and Welch says that makes no sense.
"There are no added sugars. Maple is a pure product," Welch said at a press conference Tuesday at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier. "And a lot of consumers don't want added sugar; they want pure products, nothing more so than maple syrup."
Matt Gordon, the executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association, says the new requirement could be bad for the booming maple industry.
"Anything right now that could slow down the growth that we are seeing in our industry ... could be very detrimental to maple producers," Gordon said Tuesday.
Sen. Patrick Leahy also opposes the labeling requirement and attended the press conference. Leahy worked to get $3 million to support the maple industry included in a recent spending bill.
In response to industry concerns, the FDA has said it's important for consumers to know the sugars represent -- quote -- "empty calories." But the FDA says it's OK for maple syrup producers to include an extra note on their labels that all the sugars are "naturally occurring."
The NEPR newsroom contributed to this report.