Fake maple syrup sours sweet image
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Life won’t be sweet for anyone caught selling counterfeit maple syrup if U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer get their way.
The New York Democrats are cosponsoring a bill that would make mislabeling a food product as “maple syrup” a federal offense. The Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement Act – the acronym is not accidental – also has the backing of Vermont’s Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, as well as Maine’s Susan Collins.
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The announcement comes in the wake of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation that revealed a Rhode Island man was packaging and selling a “maple syrup” that contained no maple syrup at all, just much cheaper cane sugar syrup.
This sort of food fraud is currently a misdemeanor, but would be a felony under the MAPLE Act. It would also increase the maximum sentences prosecutors could seek against syrup counterfeiters: If the bill becomes law, bottling fake syrup could carry a five-year prison sentence.
After Vermont, New York is the second-biggest producer of maple syrup in the nation. The state produced 564,000 gallons of maple syrup, according to latest figures. Producers sell the retail product at $45 to $50 a gallon, depending on quality.
“Maple farmers across New York state produce some of the highest-quality syrup in the world,” said Schumer. “We need to crack down on individuals trying to pass off fake syrup as the real thing, so that our farmers can compete fair and square. The only thing that should be flowing over mom’s pancakes is good, pure, New York maple syrup.”
Gillibrand said the bill would protect consumers, who would be less likely to wind up paying a premium price for a cheap substitute. The cane sugar product sold in the Rhode Island scheme contained about 2 percent of maple syrup value.
I wonder if Sen. Schumer could pick a maple tree out of a lineup?
Yes, fake-syrup-selling should be against the law on some level (I’d guess under consumer fraud) but a Federal felony!?