Maple Syrup
One senator is hoping that a new federal law will provide additional protection to Vermont syrup producers. Image: Flickr / tsmall / CC-BY-SA

Maple syrup is an expensive product, with prices as high as $100 per gallon. One man is facing charges of fraud after attempting to market flavored cane syrup as “real” maple syrup.

Charges of fake syrup

Bernard Coleman, a resident of Rhode Island, is currently facing charges filed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The charges say Coleman flavored and sold cane syrup as real Vermont maple syrup. The Vermont state Department of Agriculture and the FDA teamed up in order to test the syrup sold by Coleman and found it to be “100 percent adulterated.” If Coleman is convicted, Coleman could be charged $10,000 and face one year in prison.

Leahy proposes stronger legislation

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has proposed legislation to Congress that would strengthen protections for the brand of Vermont maple syrup. The legislation would turn faking maple syrup into a federal felony offense and increase sentences that prosecutors have the leeway to request. Recently, the Federal government provided a $70,000 federal grant to Vermont to help market its maple syrup.

Laws currently in play

Though Senator Leahy has proposed a federal law to protect Vermont maple syrup, there are currently several laws that can be used to prosecute frauds. FDA regulations state that food must be honestly labeled according to its contents. Mislabeling products can lead to charges of fraud and counterfeiting. There is a “standard of identity” for maple syrup that protects what can be called maple syrup. There are similar products, such as honey, that do not have any standard of identity, which means products containing everything from cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup can be sold as “pure” honey.


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