‘May contain lead’ may end up on maple syrup labels 

maple syrup Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Maple syrup is sometimes known as “liquid gold,” but thanks to a new California law, another metal may be appearing on labels.

According to a report by CTV News, the law will require large maple syrup producers — any of those operating with more than 20,000 taps — to include warning labels on their products if the syrup contains more than trace amounts of lead. But the Quebec Maple Syrup Federation would like to see all exporting maple syrup producers follow the law.

Not surprisingly, some syrup producers are concerned about how this could affect the sale of their sweet stuff, since “product may contain lead” isn’t a big selling feature.

Trace amounts of lead are naturally found in syrup, though larger doses can leach through the metal fittings of older equipment. It may not be enough to go over the maximum lead content in Canada, which is 500 parts per billion, but according to Simon Trepanier, executive director of the Quebec Maple Syrup Foundation, the maximum in California is 11 parts per billion. “It’s about the same lead content maximum as water,” Trepanier told CTV. 

That means if producers want to comply with the law — without adding to their labels — it will cost them. David Hall, a producer from Broke Lake, Quebec, told reporters that he had to buy a new evaporator for his 22,000 taps, which cost him a reported $80,000.

But it might be worth the initial expense. Because as Trepanier points out, these producers have to consider all of the states, since the product will be sold with the same label across the country, and the province exports a significant amount of syrup south of the border. In fact, Quebec alone produces 70 percent of the world’s maple syrup supply, and according to the latest numbers from the Quebec Maple Syrup Federation, $162 million worth is exported to the United States each year. 

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