Maple Syrup Monitoring Program

Table of Contents

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) conducts an annual Maple Syrup Monitoring Program. Ontario Regulation 119/11 (O. Reg. 119/11) under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 regulates the safety, sale, packaging and labelling, transportation, and advertising for sale of maple products produced by Ontario's non-federally registered maple producers. The Maple Monitoring Program is a tool used to assess compliance with O. Reg. 119/11.

Under this program, samples of maple syrup produced in Ontario are randomly collected from points of sale across the province. Laboratory analysis determines lead levels, as well as density (sugar content) and light transmission (colour classification) levels. Product containers and labels are reviewed to determine if the required packaging and labelling requirements are met.

Regulatory Requirements

Density and colour class requirements as well as labelling criteria for maple syrup are set out in O. Reg. 119/11. The regulation requires that accurate information be provided to buyers of maple syrup and promotes fair trading practices.

Density

Maple syrup that is sold or offered for sale must have a minimum soluble solids content of 66 percent (66º Brix).

Samples collected as part of this program are analyzed for density using a bench top digital refractometer.

Colour Class

The accurate colour class must appear on the label of all maple syrup containers. Colour class is determined by measuring per cent (%) light transmission. Samples are analyzed at a laboratory using an electronic spectrophotometer to determine light transmission.

On January 1, 2016, O. Reg. 119/11 was amended to include new grades and colour classifications. Until December 31, 2017, producers have the option of using either the "old" (Table 1) or the amended colour classifications (Table 2).

Table 1. Old Colour Classification for Maple Syrup

Colour Class Percentage of Light Transmission (%T)
Extra Light 75 or more
Light 60.5 or more but less than 75
Medium 44 or more but less than 60.5
Amber 27 or more but less than 44
Dark Less than 27

Table 2. Amended Colour Classification for Maple Syrup

Colour Class Taste Descriptor Percentage of Light Transmission (%T)
Golden Delicate Taste 75 or more
Amber Rich Taste 50 or more but less than 75
Dark Robust Taste 25 or more but less than 50
Very Dark Strong Taste Less than 25

Producers using the amended colour classes have the option of adding the taste descriptor associated with the colour classification. For example, the colour classification of Ontario Grade A maple syrup with a light transmission of 50% or more, but less than 75% may be labelled as either "Amber" or "Amber, Rich Taste".

Individual taste descriptors shown above in Table 2, may be associated only with the corresponding colour classifications. Use of taste descriptors other than Delicate, Rich, Robust and Strong is prohibited.

Grade

The grade, immediately followed by the colour class, must appear on the label of a maple syrup container offered for sale, sold or transported directly to a consumer or to a retail outlet if the maple syrup is packaged in a consumer or bulk container. Maple producers have the option of using either the "old" (Table 3) or "amended" grades (Table 4) until December 31, 2017.

Table 3. Old Grade for Maple Syrup

Grade Name Grade Requirements
Ontario No. 1 1. The maple syrup,
(a) is free from fermentation;
(b) is uniform in colour and free from any cloudiness or turbidity;
(c) has a maple flavour characteristic of its colour class and is free from any objectionable odour or taste.
2. The sale of the maple syrup is not prohibited by section 4 of O. Reg 119/11
Ontario Processing Grade The sale of the maple syrup is not prohibited by section 4 of O. Reg. 119/11

Table 4. Amended Grades for Maple Syrup

Grade Name Grade Requirements
Ontario Grade A 1. The maple syrup,
(a) is free from fermentation;
(b) is uniform in colour and free from any cloudiness or turbidity;
(c) has a maple flavour characteristic of its colour class and is free from any objectionable odour or taste.
2. The sale of the maple syrup is not prohibited by section 4 of this Regulation.
Ontario Processing Grade The sale of the maple syrup is not prohibited by section 4 of this Regulation.

"Ontario Grade A" must be used by non-federally registered packers. Only federally registered packers can use the federal "Canada" grade standards and names.

Labelling Requirements

Maple syrup labels on collected samples are reviewed to determine if they meet the labelling requirements outlined in O. Reg. 119/11. Every container of maple syrup with a capacity of more than 125 ml that is offered for sale, sold or transported must have a label with the following information:

  • name of the maple product ("Maple Syrup")
  • name and full address of the packer or the person for whom the maple product was packed (retailer, producer or other person)
  • volume of maple syrup in the container measured in metric volume units
  • grade immediately followed by the colour class when maple syrup is packed in consumer containers or bulk containers offered for sale, sold or transported directly to a consumer or a retail outlet.

A full address means sufficient information to identify the exact location of the relevant person's premises, such as a municipal address or property identification number, and includes a postal code.

For containers of maple syrup with a capacity of 125 ml or less, the grade, colour class and volume of the syrup are not required on the label.

Effective January 1, 2018, all maple syrup containers with a capacity of more than 125 ml must be identified with a production lot code.

Laboratory Testing

All maple syrup samples collected are analysed for the presence of lead.

The detected lead level is compared to Health Canada's guideline of 0.5 parts per million. Producers are immediately notified by telephone if the lead level detected exceeds the guideline in the sample collected. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also notified and may take follow-up action, including possible collection of new samples, product detention and/or disposal or recall.

Compliance and Violations

The Ministry takes a proactive approach to compliance based on prevention. The first stage is education and advice. If education and advice fail to bring about voluntary correction, additional steps may be taken. Progressive compliance steps may include verbal or written warnings, compliance orders with specific instructions, product detention or seizure.

For more information on progressive compliance refer to the infosheet "What you Should Know About Ticketable Offences".

Additional Information

For more information on labelling maple syrup, refer to the infosheet "Label Requirements for Maple Products in Ontario", O. Reg. 119/11 or the "Maple Products Guidance" document.

For additional information on the Maple Syrup Monitoring Program, and a summary of samples collected, visit the Foods of Plant Origin website at: www.ontario.ca/producesafety.

References

This document is provided for information purposes only. Please refer to the legislation for complete requirements. O. Reg. 119/11 can be found at www.ontario.ca/laws.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Creation Date: April 2016
Last Reviewed: June 2016