June 13, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) spoke on the floor of the Senate to urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exempt honey and maple products from a new regulation that would require them to include an “added sugar” label. The FDA states that the change is meant to help consumers be aware of the amount of sugar they are adding to their daily diet, but maple and honey producers worry this regulation could easily be mistaken by consumers to refer to sugar added after harvesting, which is not the case for pure, single ingredient foods like maple and honey.
“The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing food labels. They want to make them more understandable,” said Senator King. “…But there is a place where the proposed rule of the FDA goes off the rails, if you will, and that involves maple syrup and honey, which the agency is suggesting should have on its label ‘Added Sugar.’ Well, maple syrup and honey essentially are sugar… and to add the phrase ‘Added Sugar’ to maple syrup and [honey] makes no sense and is, indeed, confusing to the consumer… [These products are] important to us. And I think this is -- it would be a funny issue. In fact, most people when they say they're going to put added sugar on the label for maple syrup, they think it's kind of funny. It's not funny to the industry. I can't resist, Mr. President, I'm hoping for a sweet ending to a sticky mess. And that the FDA this week will do the right thing.”
During his speech, Senator King referenced his visit last week to Peter Cowin, also known as the Bee Whisperer. While at Cowin’s farm in Hampden, Senator King received a demonstration of the honey-making process, from honeycomb to bottle, with no sugar added. He also referenced MaryAnne Kinney, a state legislator from Knox who also owns Kinney’s Sugarhouse. Kinney met with Senator King this morning to discuss the impact this proposal would have on maple producers.
Last week, Senator King also cosigned a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the FDA, urging the agency to exempt honey and maple products from the regulation.
Photo 1: A maple tree being tapped on the farm of Kinney’s Sugarhouse in Knox.
Photo 2: A photo of honey being bottled at Peter Cowin’s farm in Hampden.
Photo 3: Sen. King’s floor chart, highlighting the pure process for creating honey and maple syrup.