2014 Maple Syrup Monitoring Program Results Summary

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) conducts an annual Maple Syrup Monitoring Program. As part of this program samples of Ontario maple syrup are analyzed and reviewed for compliance with Ontario Regulation 119/11 (O. Reg. 119/11) of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001.

The requirements of O. Reg. 119/11 apply to the sale, packaging, labelling, transportation and advertising of maple syrup from non-federally registered establishments in Ontario.

In 2014, the ministry collected 129 maple syrup samples from 129 different Ontario maple syrup producers. All samples were produced in Ontario during the 2014 season. Samples were collected from retail and farm gate locations across the province.

Samples were analyzed for:

  • lead residues
  • density (Brix)
  • light transmission

Ministry staff also reviewed product labels to determine compliance with label requirements under O. Reg. 119/11.

Lead Analysis

All samples were analyzed for the presence of lead. Levels detected were compared to the maximum guideline of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) set by Health Canada.

Of the 129 samples tested, two samples (two per cent) contained lead levels above the maximum Health Canada guideline of 0.5 ppm. A summary of lead results from 2010 to 2014 can be seen in Table 1.

When lead levels exceed 0.5 ppm, the producer and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are immediately notified. The CFIA is responsible for conducting risk assessments of the products, and determining if a recall is required. No public recalls were issued in 2014 as a result of these findings.

When lead is detected above the guideline, OMAFRA may conduct additional sampling, complete an on-site inspection, and/or provide education and information to the producer to prevent recurrence.

The ministry also sends information letters and education material to producers with lead levels between 0.25 ppm and 0.49 ppm. Two information letters were sent following the 2014 season.

Table 1: Summary of Lead Results 2010-2014

Year
# Samples
Lead at or above 0.5 ppm
(# / %)
2014
129
2 / 2%
2013
150
5 / 3%
2012
150
2 / 1%
2011
197
2 / 1%
2010
248
4 / 2%
Total
874
21 / 2%

Density

O. Reg. 119/11 requires a minimum soluble solids content (Brix level) of 66 per cent.

Of the 129 samples tested, 122 (94 per cent) had Brix levels equal to or greater than the minimum requirement.

Producers with Brix levels below the minimum requirement are first issued a warning letter. In cases of repeat non-compliance, additional compliance tools may be used.

Grade and Colour Classification

O. Reg. 119/11 requires that maple syrup offered for sale is labelled with the class and the grade of the syrup.

Grade Name

All samples were examined to determine compliance with grade name requirements.

  • 120 samples (93 per cent ) were labelled with a grade
  • 66 (55 per cent) were labelled with the correct grade (e.g. " Ontario No. 1")
  • 54 (45 per cent) were labelled with an incorrect grade (e.g. "Canada No. 1" or "No. 1")

Producers with non-compliant grades are sent information letters and education materials. In cases of repeat non-compliance, additional compliance tools may be used.

Light Transmission

All samples were assessed to determine if they were labelled with the correct colour class.

Of the 129 samples collected, 124 (96 per cent) had a colour class indicated on the label. Laboratory analysis showed that 83 (67 per cent) of these were labelled with the correct colour class.

As with other non-compliance, producers with incorrect colour class on their label are first sent information letters and educational materials. Additional compliance tools may be used in cases of repeat non-compliance.

Label Review

OMAFRA staff review product labels to determine if they meet labelling requirements set out in O. Reg. 119/11. Refer to the Infosheet "Label Requirements for Maple Syrup Products in Ontario" for a summary of label requirements.

Of the 129 labels reviewed:

  • all 129 samples had a label
  • 95 (74 per cent) were fully compliant with all of the required label requirements
  • 34 (26 per cent) had at least one component missing

A summary of the missing label requirement can be seen in Table 2.

Table 2: Summary of Missing Label Information

Label Information
Number of samples
Per cent of samples
No. of labels reviewed
129
100%
All requirements present
95
74%
"Maple Syrup" missing
0
0%
Volume missing
6
5%
Grade missing
9
7%
Colour missing
5
4%
Name or complete address missing
24
19%

The ministry first sends education letters and material to producers who do not meet labelling requirements. Additional compliance measures may be used in cases of repeat non-compliance.

Progressive Compliance

OMAFRA takes a progressive compliance approach when dealing with regulatory non-compliance. Except when there is an immediate food safety risk, the first stage is education and advice. For instances of continuing non-compliance, other tools such as warning letters, compliance orders, detention or seizure of product, ticketing or court orders, may be used.

Tools used are based on the level of risk associated with the non-compliant issue and the producer's history of non-compliance.

References

This document is provided for information purposes only. Please refer to the regulation for complete requirements. Ontario Regulation 119/11 can be found at www.e-laws.gov.on.ca

Results from this program are not statistically valid and cannot be used to make generalizations about the state of industry.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Loree Saunders - Compliance Program Coordinator/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 12 November 2014
Last Reviewed: 12 November 2014