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Maple syrup producers fight for tighter labeling restrictions from FDA

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Many of Michigan's maple syrup producers have signed onto a letter to the FDA requesting a crackdown on companies misbranding their products as "maple."

A letter to the agency, signed by maple syrup producers from states like Michigan and Vermont, requested tighter restrictions and enforcement on products that label themselves as "maple," even when the ingredients don't include maple syrup.

Craig Waldron is president of the Commercial Maple Syrup Producers of Michigan.

He said too many commercial products claim to be maple-flavored but don't use the ingredient.

"There's ... maple oatmeals and bacons and all kinds of things," he said. "And some of those products may have real maple in them and it's really not fair to the ones that are using the real stuff."

Waldron said allowing this improper labeling creates unfair competition for maple syrup producers, who have notably high production costs.

"It's a natural product and the companies that produce it ... are quite, rightly so, protective of that name," he said.

He added that it's particularly unfair that other companies can claim to use maple when the producers themselves have such strict guidelines for making the syrup.

A representative from the FDA said the agency doesn't publicly comment on these matters, but it plans to contact the petitioners directly.