Fake maple syrup sours sweet image

Times Union:

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!?

I can understand the desire of having a criminal penalty which outweighs the financial gain of committing fraud. And the proposal would reclassify the crime to that of fraud.

Under the bill, S. 1742, selling fake maple syrup would be listed as an act of fraud that is seen as a felony offense, along with falsifying bank entries, mortgage transactions, loan applications and citizenship records, along with dozens of other activities.

“We need to make sure that those who intentionally deceive consumers get a trip to jail, not a slap on the wrist,” Leahy said.

thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/189087-senate-bill-would-make-syrup-fraud-a-felony

Under current law, a person who intentionally bottles mislabeled syrup faces up to a year in prison. But has anyone actually been sentenced to prison for this offense? Will making the crime a felony increase the chances of a prison sentence being imposed?

I’m wondering if this proposal isn’t simply a response to the demands of maple syrup producers that the senators “do something.” If so, then I guess the senators will have satisfied a constituency. But will the proposal actually make a difference in conviction and sentencing? Will making the crime a felony deter such fraud?

It’s good to see that as our economy fades into the sunset and the current administration continues to flout our laws on all fronts, Our Most Distinguished Legislators are attending to the really important business of the day in Washington, DC.

So much better to pass off high fructose corn syrup with a bit of imitation maple flavoring as the real thing. Folks in the hinterlands won’t be able to tell the difference. :frowning:

Would a New York state or Vermont law stop someone in Idaho from the fraud?

I’m sure that somewhere under FDA, USDA, &c. regulations it is already illegal to sell adulterated/mislabeled [anything], incl. maple syrup.

This is, apparently, a real problem in Vermont, where a lot of maple syrup comes from: turns out there’s been phonies who were ‘forging’ maple syrup as it were, and this was hurting the farmers who collect the real thing from their own trees. What happened was, it made people gun shy to buy maple syrup from the tourist-y gift shops because they didn’t want the maple-flavored-high-fructose-corn-syrup guck when they wanted the real thing (can’t say I blame them), and so the farmers with the real thing couldn’t sell their syrup.

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