Maple syrup labelling changes on tap

Do you prefer "golden maple syrup with a delicate taste" or "very dark maple syrup with a strong taste"? Ottawa wants to bring in new labels for the classic Canadian treat.

Syrup lovers currently misled by labelling, food agency believes

Ottawa is proposing changes to how maple syrup is labelled in Canada, a move it says will help customers pick the flavour they prefer. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)

Do you prefer "golden maple syrup with a delicate taste" or "very dark maple syrup with a strong taste"?

Those are two potential descriptors Ottawa hopes Canadian syrup manufacturers will use, so customers can know exactly what they’re pouring onto their pancakes.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency released on Friday the new descriptors and some details about its proposed amendments to the rules governing the sale of maple syrup.

The agency said changes are needed to "modernize" the way maple syrup is classified, and that the International Maple Syrup Institute has asked for the changes.

Why? Canadian syrup sellers say maple syrups labelled "No. 1" often sell best, even though consumers generally prefer the richer taste of "Canada No. 2."

The proposed changes which are set to be released in the Canada Gazette on Saturday would give a better hint about the taste (many producers already include similar descriptions on their packaging.)

The changes would also align Canadian and U.S. grading systems, the agency said.

The Canadian maple syrup business is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. According to government figures, Canada produces 84 per cent of the world’s maple syrup, with the U.S. producing the rest.

Consumers and those in the maple syrup industry are being asked to weigh in until Sept. 10.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency​ is already recommending a two-year transition period to bring in any changes.

The move to change syrup regulations, it appears, is a slow pour.