What maple syrup grades mean in Ontario.

All maple syrup sold in Ontario must be graded and classified for colour. The system for grading depends on whether a producer is regulated under provincial or federal regulations. Both the federal and provincial governments have recently passed new regulations for the grading of maple syrup, and for the most part the federal and provincial grading requirements are aligned with each other. These recent changes reflect the recommendations made by the International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) to all maple syrup producing areas in North America.

For specific details on the Ontario regulations, see the provincial grade and colour classification requirements in Ontario Regulation 119/11 Produce, Honey and Maple Products under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001.

Federal requirements are administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) who is responsible the food safety and quality of maple products in Canada They are responsible for the "federal" classification of maple syrup as provided for in the Maple Product Regulations (MPR) under the Canada Agricultural Products Act.

Ontario Provincial Requirements

All retail maple syrup, sold by Ontario producers, regardless of grade, must contain a minimum sugar content of 66 percent and be created exclusively from the concentration of maple sap.

Under the provincial regulations, maple syrup may be graded only if the maple syrup is:

  • Free of fermentation,
  • Is uniform in colour and free from any cloudiness or turbidity, and,
  • Has a maple flavour characteristic of its colour class and is free from any objectionable odour or taste.

Ontario and Canada Colour Classification for Maple Syrup

Both provincial and federal colour classification requirements are the same for maple syrup, as shown in the following table:

Item Colour Class    Percentage of Light Transmission
1 Golden, Delicate Taste not less than 75%
2 Amber, Rich Taste less than 75%
but not less than 50%
3 Dark, Robust Taste less than 50%
but not less than 25%
4 Very Dark, Strong Taste less than 25%


(a)    Note that the requirements under both regulations are essentially the same with the exception of the Grade name (“Ontario” vs. “Canada”).

(b)   Under the federal requirements, maple syrup package labels must now contain the colour class descriptor of the grade of syrup. The taste descriptor is optional under the provincial regulations. OMSPA recommends that all producers include the taste descriptor on their labels, in order to provide consumers with additional information and to provide consistency in how we present maple syrup to the market place.

When consumers purchase maple syrup from an OMSPA member, regardless of whether it bears a Canada or Ontario grade, they can be assured it meets all regulatory requirements and is of the highest quality.