Welch Fights Back Against "Natural" Syrup | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Welch Fights Back Against "Natural" Syrup 

Rep. Peter Welch is mad. Fuming, even. His ire doesn't stem from repeated Republican stalemates, Obama's plummeting poll numbers or the Tea Party's limited grasp of English grammar. No, our good sir is pissed over syrup. In particular, maple-flavored syrup that claims to be "all natural."

In a letter sent to the commissioner of the FDA, dated September 8, Welch calls Log Cabin Syrup and its parent company on the carpet for claiming that what they're hawking is natural. He schools the commish, Margaret Hamburg, on the agency's own rules regarding which products use the label "Natural," and which can only use the label "Fake as Hell."

Below is Welch's nastygram:

September 8, 2010

Margaret Hamburg, M.D.


Food and Drug Administration

 10903 New Hampshire Ave.

Silver Spring, MD 20993

Dear Dr. Hamburg,

Log Cabin Syrup, a division of Pinnacle Foods LLC, recently began marketing what it is calling a new, "All Natural Syrup." According to the FDA guidelines, a product labeled natural may not contain colors, flavors or artificial substances.

This so-called "natural" product includes the following ingredients: syrup (brown rice, sugar, maple [4 percent]), water, natural flavor, xanthan gum (natural thickener), caramel color, citric acid. Log Cabin's product appear to violate the FDA regulations.

While most Vermonters have a discerning eye — and palate — for real maple syrup, the countless consumers outside of our state who have come to expect quality from natural Vermont products may be fooled by this misleading labeling. Therefore, I ask your agency to immediately investigate this product and determine whether it is in violation of FDA policies.

I look forward to hearing back from your agency on the progress of your investigation.



Member of Congress

Oh, snap! Do you know what he's saying in the third paragraph? He's saying non-Vermonters wouldn't know real maple syrup if they swam in a pool of it. I believe he's also intimating that Vermonters are a sophisticated lot who can't be fooled by a jug of canola oil and food coloring presented as pancake topping.

But I'm confused about which ingredient in the Log Cabin slop isn't natural. The syrup itself seems kosher, as does the water and the xanthan gum, which is apparently just fermented sucrose or glucose, isopropyl alcohol and some sort of liquid medium. Totally normal and natural. Caramel color is basically a mashup of carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, etc.), acids, alkalis and salts. Again, I could find that in nature, right? The citric acid could just be juice from lemons or some other citrus. And natural flavor sounds pretty, um, natural.

So what's your beef, Pete? I'm thinking it's the name — Log Cabin Syrup. It's clearly a gay Republican conspiracy meant to bring down the Vermont maple industry so that processed-food agribusinesses such as Log Cabin's parent company can flourish. They're a small but shifty (if well dressed and impeccably groomed)  lot, those Log Cabin Republicans. This could be their handiwork.

In any event, let it be known, citizens of Vermont: Peter Welch is working for you. Nothing's gettin' by him, not even fake natural syrup.

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Lauren Ober

Lauren Ober

Lauren Ober was a Seven Days staff writer from 2009-2011.

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