2017 Maple Syrup Monitoring Program Results Summary

Table of Contents

  1. Lead Analysis
  2. Density
  3. Grade and Colour Classification
  4. Grade Name
  5. Light Transmission
  6. Label Review
  7. Progressive Compliance
  8. References

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) conducts an annual Maple Syrup Monitoring Program. As part of this program samples of Ontario maple syrup are analyzed and reviewed for compliance with Ontario Regulation 119/11 (O. Reg. 119/11) of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001.

The requirements of O. Reg. 119/11 apply to the sale, packaging, labelling, transportation and advertising of maple syrup from non-federally registered establishments in Ontario.

In 2017, the ministry collected 75 maple syrup samples from 75 different Ontario maple syrup producers. All samples were produced in Ontario during the 2017 season. Samples were collected from retail and farm gate locations across the province.

Samples were analyzed for:

  • presence of lead
  • density (Brix)
  • light transmission (colour classification)

Ministry staff also reviewed product labels to determine compliance with label requirements under O. Reg. 119/11.

Lead Analysis

All samples were analyzed for the presence of lead. Levels detected were compared to the maximum guideline of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) set by Health Canada.

Of the 75 samples tested, three samples contained lead levels above the maximum Health Canada guideline of 0.5 ppm. A summary of lead results from 2013 to 2017 can be seen in Table 1.

When lead levels exceed 0.5 ppm, the producer and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are immediately notified. The CFIA is responsible for conducting risk assessments of the products, and determining if a recall is required. No public recalls were issued in 2017 as a result of these findings.

When lead is detected above the guideline, OMAFRA may conduct additional sampling, complete an on-site inspection, and/or provide education and information to the producer to prevent recurrence.

The ministry sent information letters and education material to two producers with lead levels between 0.16 ppm and 0.49 ppm.

Table 1: Summary of Lead Results 2013-2017


# Samples
Lead at or above 0.5 ppm


O. Reg. 119/11 requires a minimum soluble solids content (Brix level) of 66 per cent.

Of the 75 samples tested, 70 had Brix levels equal to or greater than the minimum requirement.

Producers with Brix levels below the minimum requirement are first issued a warning letter. In cases of repeat non-compliance, additional compliance tools may be used.

Grade and Colour Classification

O. Reg. 119/11 requires that maple syrup offered for sale is labelled with the colour class and the grade of the syrup.

Grade Name

All 75 samples were examined to determine compliance with grade name requirements.

  • 60 samples were labelled with a grade
  • 47 were labelled with the correct grade (e.g., " Ontario No. 1" or "Ontario Grade A")
  • 13 were labelled with an incorrect grade (e.g., "Canada No. 1" or "No. 1")

Producers with non-compliant grades are sent information letters and education materials. In cases of repeat non-compliance, additional compliance tools may be used.

Light Transmission (Colour Classification)

All samples were assessed to determine if they were labelled with the correct colour class.

Of the 75 samples collected, 65 had a colour class indicated on the label. Laboratory analysis showed that 34 of these were labelled with the correct colour class.

As with other non-compliance, producers with incorrect colour class on their label are first sent information letters and educational materials. Additional compliance tools may be used in cases of repeat non-compliance.

Label Review

OMAFRA staff review product labels to determine if they meet labelling requirements set out in O. Reg. 119/11. Refer to the Infosheet "Label Requirements for Maple Syrup Products in Ontario" for a summary of label requirements.

Of the 75 labels reviewed:

  • all 75 samples had a label
  • 33 were fully compliant with all of the required label requirements
  • 42 had at least one component missing

A summary of the missing label requirement can be seen in Table 2.

Table 2: Summary of Missing Label Information

Label Information
Number of Samples
No. of labels reviewed
All requirements present
"Maple Syrup" missing
Volume missing
Grade missing
Colour missing
Name or complete address missing

The ministry sends education letters and material to producers who do not meet labelling requirements. Additional compliance measures may be used in cases of repeat non-compliance.

Progressive Compliance

OMAFRA takes a progressive compliance approach when dealing with regulatory non-compliance. When there is a food safety risk, the first stage is education and advice. For instances of continuing non-compliance, other tools such as warning letters, compliance orders, detention or seizure of product, ticketing or court orders, may be used.

Tools used are based on the level of risk associated with the non-compliant issue and the producer's history of non-compliance.


This document is provided for information purposes only. Please refer to the regulation for complete requirements. Ontario Regulation 119/11 can be found at www.ontario.ca/laws.

Results from this program are not statistically valid and cannot be used to make generalizations about the state of industry.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: November 2017
Last Reviewed: 14 December 2017