October 20, 2011

Schumer, Gillibrand Introduce Legislation to Protect New York’s Maple Syrup Producers and Consumers

New Law Elevates Legal Repercussions Of Mislabeling Maple Syrup From A Misdemeanor To A Felony Mislabeling Short-Changes Producers And Defrauds Consumers

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today introduced legislation that would make intentionally mislabeling food products as “maple syrup” a federal crime. Currently this form of food fraud is only a misdemeanor. The legislation would make these crimes a felony, increasing sentences that prosecutors can seek for people who defraud consumers and farmers by intentionally mislabeling maple syrup. 

“Maple farmers across New York state produce some of the highest quality syrup in the world,” said Senator Schumer. “We need to crackdown 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.” 

“New York is the second largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S., and we shouldn’t allow production to be hampered by fraudulent behavior,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This bill ensures that producers of real maple syrup can sell their product in an honest market and that consumers know what they’re paying for.” 

The bill is being introduced in response to a recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation that determined that a Rhode Island man was marketing and selling a product as maple syrup when in fact it was cane sugar. Cane sugar costs about 2 percent as much as real maple syrup, thus defrauding consumers who believed that they were purchasing real maple syrup. The bipartisan Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement (MAPLE) Act would increase the maximum penalty for fraudulently selling maple syrup that is not, in fact, maple syrup from one year to five years in prison.