Fans of naturally produced syrups and honey are outraged—particularly those in New England, where maple syrup is an industry of its own.
It's not a secret by any means that sugars within maple syrup and honey can be harmful in excess—after all, these ingredients are mostly sugar. (Here's what to do if you've eaten too much.)
But the Food and Drug Administration's plan to make that clear to consumers by labeling the sugars in syrup and honey "added sugar" has been controversial among producers, as well as online. "Added sugar" is a category on the new nutrition labels that will (probably) be required on all foods in the next few years, though some manufacturers are already using them.
RELATED: What Is Added Sugar?
In northeastern Maine, where maple syrup is one of the state's signature exports, a state legislator by the name of MaryAnne Kinney (who also happens to own a maple production facility known as Kinney's Sugarhouse) is planning a "one-woman" march on Washington, D.C., the Portland Press Herald reports.
She's protesting the FDA's proposal, given that her products—as well as most syrup and honey—don't actually have any sugar added during the production. (Here are the different kinds of sugar that are commonly found in foods.)
The FDA is using evidence outlined in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that calls for a reduction in consumption of added sugars across the board.
The FDA points out that meeting healthy daily nutrient counts becomes harder for the average dieter if more than 10 percent of calories in a given day comes from sugar itself—and as of right now, Americans consume an average of 13 percent of total calories added sugars, with soda, coffee, fruit juice, and sports or energy drinks being the culprit, most of the time.
But why would something like maple syrup be included? The FDA explains on their site that this ensures that foods made using maple syrup or honey aren't free from having to list added sugars on their nutrition labels—but it also includes syrup and honey by default, too.
"The FDA recognizes that added sugars can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern. But if consumed in excess, it becomes more difficult to also eat foods with enough dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals and still stay within calorie limits," they explain. "The updates to the label will help increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods.
Industry leaders in New England aren't on board with what they're referring to as a pigeonhole rule—the same report from the Press Herald is full of officials voicing their outrage, such as Richard McLaughlin, the president of the Maine State Beekeepers Association.
“Honey is a pure product, and it is not altered by the beekeeper,” he tells the Press Herald. “In our case, the sugar that’s naturally in honey is how the bees produce it. There is no added sugar.”
Portland, Maine's CBS affiliate WGME13 covered the unfolding debate between the federal agency and local producers yesterday, interviewing manufacturers who consider the new regulations "nothing short of a lie." When they posted their coverage to their official Facebook page, both locals and diehard maple syrup fans chimed in.
It's just one example of the uproar that has erupted via social media and discussion boards. So many people have weighed in, in fact, that the FDA has decided to push back their period for public comments up until June 15, the Press Herald reports. After the period is over, the agency will begin a process to mull over any final decision when it comes to whether syrups and honey will be required to carry "added sugar'" labels.