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New Maple Syrup Grades

imsilogo“We are pleased that the Canadian government has accepted the recommendations of the IMSI and its members to change the maple grading system.” Yvon Poitras, President, IMSI

The International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) has been laying the groundwork for changes to the maple grading system since 2002. The IMSI represents maple syrup producers, maple packers and packer cooperatives, maple equipment manufacturers, vendors and others who are working together to maintain and enhance the economic, environmental and cultural values of the maple industry. The IMSI mandate is focused on both protecting the integrity and purity of maple syrup as well as positioning the industry for growth in North America and around the world.

The amended maple regulations include a standard definition for pure maple syrup which will be referenced as part of a uniform branding for pure maple. This will help consumers to distinguish pure maple from numerous products currently being sold in the retail marketplace that include label references to maple or visual representations from the maple industry but contain no real maple syrup or only very minimal amounts. The fact that current definitions and maple grading and nomenclature systems at both the federal and provincial/state levels in Canada and the United States lack uniformity often causes confusion among highly mobile consumers.

The new maple classification and grading system will offer a slate of four (4) distinct classes of Grade A quality pure maple syrup to consumers and commercial food ingredient users in North America and overseas. The four classes of maple syrup have unique descriptors for both the colour and the taste, with flavours ranging from delicate to strong. Pure maple syrup and pure maple derivatives, including maple sugar and maple butter, are a natural and healthy choice for enhancing the taste experience of a wide variety of different foods.

A second grade of pure maple syrup called “Processing Grade” will contain any maple syrup that possesses minimal food quality defects but still meets all government regulatory standards for food quality and safety for human consumption.

The adoption of standardized grades and definition for pure maple syrup will help ensure that the maple industry thrives in the years ahead . Communication and understanding concerning pure maple syrup will be improved while ensuring consumers have continued access to high quality pure maple products.

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From the OMSPA President

raySpring is around the corner…really. It has been an old fashioned winter with plenty of snow and cold temperatures to tell the maple trees that it is indeed winter.

What will the season be like? We know that if the ground, where the tree roots are, is well frozen…the sap will be sweeter. And, while the snow creates challenges in working in the maple bush ( snowshoes help) while drilling the tap holes and tapping, the melting snow does supply water to the tree for continued running. We don’t know what the season will bring. However, we do need consistently warm days and cold nights for the sap to “run”.

Sugar makers are proud of their heritage. Again, in 2013, we celebrated OMSPA members David & Paul Chant family’s 150 years of maple production on the same farm. Incredibly, this operation has 4800 taps still on buckets which are gathered by 3 teams of horses!

Over 90% of our producers use modern pipeline systems and state of the art food grade equipment to make the maple syrup consumers enjoy so much…don’t worry, it is still pure and natural. A recent economic analysis of the maple industry in Ontario shows that we are worth over $53 million to the economy and have potential to grow. So, our industry is not only traditional and sweet, but a valuable neighbor, friend and business in rural Ontario.

We invite you to connect with your favourite sugar maker, and if you don’t have one check this site for our members who are willing to connect with you.

May the sap run sweet….

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Asian Long-horned beetle discovered in Mississauga

albThe troublesome Asian long-horned beetle has re-emerged, this time from trees in Mississauga, leaving its perfectly round exit holes and fears of another invasion. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said inspectors confirmed the pest’s presence northeast of Pearson airport in late September, after a person found one of the distinctive beetles on his car in August. Twenty trees have since been removed and two have been confirmed infested, according to the CFIA. A 2.4-kilometre swath of land near the American Drive Business Park, an industrial park at highways 427 and 409, is being surveyed. The Mississauga tree canopy could face disaster. According to a 2011 technical report prepared by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the worst-case scenario would be costly: 56 per cent of Mississauga’s tree population is susceptible to the beetle, amounting to a potential loss of $702 million. That’s why the invasive species is taken so seriously, said Gavin Longmuir, Mississauga’s urban forestry manager and co-author of the report, who was contacted by the CFIA in September. “You can imagine if that insect got out into the larger open forest north of the city or west or east and how that would have a huge impact.” Actual damage would likely be less severe, the report states. The beetle attacks hardwood species and is especially fond of maple, but will settle for elm, birch, poplar and mountain ash trees, among others. Larvae burrow in the trees and leave dime-size holes when they emerge as adults with blue-black and white-spotted bodies three centimetres long. The larvae feed on the green inner bark and those exit holes leave the tree structurally unsound and unhealthy. An affected tree can be dead within a few years. The exact scope of the infestation is yet to be determined, Longmuir said. In April, the federal Agriculture department declared the pest eradicated from Canada. It was last detected in late 2007, and first noticed near the Vaughan-Toronto border in 2003. Nearly 30,000 trees were removed from affected areas in the GTA. In some cases, all susceptible trees within a 400-metre radius of an infected tree were chopped down. But this invasion is likely new and not a continuation of the old one, said Gregory Wolff, the CFIA’s chief plant health officer. A property manager with Bentall Kennedy, which runs the American Drive Business Park, said one maple tree was cut down on site but was not aware of a larger problem. It was not immediately known how the beetles were imported. The beetle is native to East Asia and has no natural predators in Canada. It can fly only short distances and typically moves with the transport of cut wood, fire wood and wood packaging materials. The CFIA is asking the public not to move firewood.

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2 charged in $18M maple syrup heist

Three people were arrested and two have been charged in connection with the $18-million maple syrup heist in Quebec in the summer.

Quebec provincial police are still seeking five suspects, four men and one woman, in connection with the theft of maple syrup from a warehouse last summer.

Richard Vallières, 34, of Loretteville and Avik Caron, 39, of Saint-Wenceslas, face charges of theft, conspiracy, handling stolen goods and fraud.

CBC News has learned that Caron once worked as a financial adviser.

Between August 2011 and July 2012, thieves made off with 9,600 barrels of maple syrup from a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, about 95 kilometres southwest of Quebec City.

It was initially believed about $30 million worth of syrup was stolen, but later checks established that fewer barrels were missing than was first reported.

Police now believe the barrels were siphoned off over the course of a year.

Some syrup may have gone to U.S.

The maple syrup federation’s interim director, Simon Trépanier, said it’s a relief to know arrests have been made.

However, police have recovered only about 70 per cent of the stolen syrup, and Trépanier believes the rest might have already been sold in the United States.

“We’re asking the government to help us with that,” Trépanier said. “If there’s any maple syrup … stolen and it’s now in the States, if it’s our syrup, we want it back.”

A spokesman for Quebec provincial police, Claude Denis, said more than 40 search warrants were executed in New Brunswick, Ontario and in the United States in connection with the theft.

“During the investigation, police officers met approximately 300 people working in the production and sale of maple syrup and transportation,” said Denis.

In addition to the recovered maple syrup, police also seized electronic scales, elevator platforms and kettles that are used in the production of maple syrup.

In October, authorities seized approximately 1,000 barrels of maple syrup from S.K. Export Inc in Kedgwick, N.B.

Étienne St-Pierre, the owner of the export business, said the syrup came from his regular providers in Quebec and not from the warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford.

At the time, the company’s general manager, Julienne Bossé-Desrosiers, told Radio-Canada she had documents to prove the company bought its syrup directly from producers.

The warehouse stored about 3.4 million litres of bulk maple syrup, which belonged to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.

The federation represents the province’s 7,500 producers and administers a bulk sale system with quotas on individual operations.

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New Maple Syrup Rules for North America Target Fraudsters

maple_syrup_jpg_size_xxlarge_letterboxWatch out, mock maple syrup makers: it’s about to get a lot harder to pass off a knock-off as the bona-fide Canadian breakfast-table staple.

After more than a decade of talks among governments, food regulators and the industry, new rules are being adopted across North America to ensure consumers have a better idea of what kind of maple syrup they’re buying.

The changes, which will come into effect over the next two years, will harmonize the grading system for maple syrup produced in Canada and the United States.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also adopting a new system for classing pure maple syrup by colour.

And labels will include new “flavour descriptors” so consumers can get a better idea of how the various shades of syrup are likely to vary in taste.

“The intensity of the taste varies as you move from the lightest syrup, which is delicate, to the darkest syrup, which is more of a strong taste,” said Dave Chapeskie, executive director of the International Maple Syrup Institute.

The institute, based in Spencerville, Ont., a 45-minute drive southwest of Ottawa, was established in 1975 by producers, packers and equipment manufacturers to help promote and protect the maple syrup industry.

Maple syrup comes in four colour grades ranging from light “golden” to dark — easy enough to determine through a clear glass bottle, but not so much when the liquid is in an opaque container.

No matter the colour, it will all be marked as Grade A maple syrup, unless it’s classified as “Processing Grade,” which is still pure and edible, but may contain “minimal food quality defects.”

Sen. Nancy Greene Raine said the new regulations would also help marketers of pure maple products crack down on fraudsters who sell maple syrup that is often little more than flavoured sugar water.

“If you’ve ever been to a street market in Paris, for example, some of them have signs advertising ‘pure Canadian maple syrup,’ when what they are selling doesn’t actually contain much maple syrup at all,” she said.

“It’s mostly sugar water. They won’t be able to do that anymore. It’s fraud.”

The amended regulations include a standard definition of “pure maple syrup” that’s designed to help consumers distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake.

Canada produces 84 per cent of the world’s maple syrup, mainly in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

The rest comes from producers in 12 states south of the border.

For Canadian producers and spinoff businesses, the industry is worth about $1 billion.

The next big question for the industry is to determine which grade of syrup has more nutritional value: the light, delicately flavoured version, or the darker one.

Lighter syrup is made in the early part of the tree sapping season and consists of a sucrose sugar, which contains one less molecule than its darker counterpart, explained Ray Bonenberg, president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association.

The light sap comes as “the tree is waking up” from the winter freeze, said Bonenberg.

As winter turns to spring, daytime temperatures turn warmer, which brings more minerals and vitamins out of the tree, producing a darker, fructose sap, which changes the colour of the syrup.

It takes 45 litres of maple sap to produce a single litre of syrup, regardless of when the sap is taken from the tree.

Researchers in Quebec are studying whether the colour change makes a nutritional difference, said Chapeskie.

Until they make that determination, consumers can choose their syrup based on taste, and how they plan to use it, said Greene Raine.

“It’s a little bit like wine,” said the senator, who added she pours maple syrup over everything from ice cream to yogurt.

“They taste differently and you use them for different purposes.”

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Researchers Uncover a Potential New Benefit of Pure Maple Syrup on Liver Health

New research conducted at the University of Tokyo suggests that pure maple syrup may promote a healthy liver. The pilot study, conducted by Dr. Keiko Abe of the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, showed that healthy laboratory rats fed a diet in which some of the carbohydrate was replaced with pure maple syrup from Canada yielded significantly better results in liver function tests than the control groups fed a diet with a syrup mix containing a similar sugar content as maple syrup. The results will be published in the November, 2011 issue of “Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.” Although most healthy individuals take liver function for granted, liver health is of great importance because of the hundreds of vital functions it performs that are essential to human life, which include storing energy (glycogen) and regulating blood glucose, the production of certain amino acids (building blocks of protein), filtering harmful substances from the blood. Liver disease not related to alcohol consumption is estimated to affect 25% of people in the United States, according to the American Liver Foundation. It shows up most often in middle aged people who are overweight, have abnormal blood lipids and diabetes or insulin resistance conditions when grouped together, known as metabolic syndrome.

“It is important to understand the factors leading to impaired liver function — our lifestyle choices including poor diet, stress and lack of exercise, as well as exposure to environmental pollutants that produce tissue-damaging free radicals,” says Dr. Melissa Palmer, clinical professor and medical director of hepatology at New York University Plainview. “The preliminary results of this research are encouraging and emphasize the importance of choosing a healthy diet to help counteract the lifestyle and environmental factors that may impact liver function, even our choice of a sweetener. In addition to Dr. Abe’s recent findings, published research suggests that pure maple syrup may prove to be a better choice of sweetener because it was found to be rich in polyphenolic antioxidants and contains vitamins and minerals,” notes Palmer.

The animals were evaluated using the latest analytical methods including gene expression profiling called nutrigenomics. In the study, rats were fed diets consisting of 20% pure maple syrup, or 20% syrup mixture with similar sugar content as maple syrup. After 11 days, the rats on the maple syrup diet showed significantly decreased levels of liver enzymes AST, ALT and LDH in the blood, standard biomarkers for evaluating liver function. The gene expression profiling observations also suggest a mechanism whereby the maple syrup diet caused genes involved in the production of harmful ammonia in the liver to down-regulate, that is, to be less active.

“This research contributes to our growing understanding of the incredible health potential of maple syrup,” remarked Serge Beaulieu, President of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. “We learned previously that maple syrup contains antioxidant compounds that may actually help regulate glucose metabolism and increase insulin release, possibly aiding in the management of type 2 diabetes. And now Dr. Abe is exploring the relationship between maple syrup consumption and liver health. Her current findings give us even more reason to enjoy our maple syrup.

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