What maple syrup grades mean in Ontario.

All maple syrup sold in Ontario must be graded and classified for colour. The system under which maple syrup is graded depends on whether a producer is under provincial or federal regulations. At the present time, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has adopted the proposed new grading standards recommended by the International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI).


Ontario Provincial Requirements

Maple syrup producers that pack, sell and transport maple syrup only in Ontario are subject to the provincial grade and colour classification requirements of Ontario Regulation 119/11 Produce, Honey and Maple Products under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001. The grades and colour classifications are shown in the tables below.

Grades for Maple Syrup

Item Grade Name Grade Requirements
1. Ontario No. 1 1. The maple syrup,
    (a) is free from fermentation;
    (b) is uniform in colour and free from any cloudiness or turbidity;
    (c) has a maple flavour characteristic of its colour class and is free from any objectionable odour or taste.
    2. The sale of the maple syrup is not prohibited by section 4 of this Regulation.
2. Ontario Processing Grade 1. The sale of the maple syrup is not prohibited by section 4 of this Regulation. (Section 4 states that maple syrup sold must be free of contamination.)

Colour Classification for Maple Syrup

Item Colour Class Percentage of Light Transmission
1. Extra Light 75% or more
2. Light 60.5% or more but less than 75%
3. Medium 44% or more but less than 60.5%
4. Amber 27% or more but less than 44%
5. Dark Less than 27%

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. The difference between maple syrups is strictly colour and the intensity of its maple flavour.

Proposed new Grading Requirements for Ontario

In response to repeated requests from OMSPA asking the province of Ontario to adopt the proposed IMSI grade standards, OMAFRA has agreed to begin consultations with the industry and hopes to have the regulations in place for the 2016 sugaring season. This is good news and OMSPA is formulating the submission now for the input period. In spite of the timelines there will be a phase in period after the regulations are passed. As a result, we recommend that Ontario labels continue to be used, as required under the current Regulation 119/11. OMSPA will ensure that Ontario maple syrup producers are advised of the consultation timeframes and locations if any open houses are held.


Federally Registered Producer Requirements

The federal government announced on December 16, 2014 that the Maple Products Regulations had been amended, and the new regulations were published in Canada Gazette, Part II on December 31, 2014. The changes came into effect on January 01, 2015.

The new maple classification and grading system provides a slate of four (4) distinct classes of “Canada Grade A” quality pure maple. The four classes have unique descriptors for both the colour and the taste. A second grade of pure maple syrup called “Canada 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 relevant sections of the new regulations are as follows:

Section 5 of the regulations states that:

5. (1) Maple syrup may be graded only if

(a) it is produced exclusively by the concentration of maple sap or by the dilution or solution of a maple product, other than maple sap, in potable water;

(b) it is clean, wholesome and fit for human consumption;

(c) [Repealed, SOR/2014-297, s. 3]

(d) [Revoked, SOR/89-267, s. 2]

(e) it has a minimum soluble solids content of 66 per cent and has a maximum soluble solids content of 68.9 per cent as determined by a refractometer or hydrometer at 20°C; and

(f) in the case of maple syrup that is graded as “Canada Grade A”, its colour class has been determined in accordance with Schedule III.

Grade name requirements for maple syrup are as follows:

SCHEDULE I

(Section 4 and subsection 15(1))

GRADE NAME REQUIREMENTS FOR MAPLE SYRUP

1. Maple syrup may be graded as “Canada Grade A” if, in addition to meeting the requirements set out in section 5 of these Regulations,

(a) it is free from fermentation;

(b) it is uniform in colour and free from sediment and free from any cloudiness or turbidity;

(c) its colour class is

(i) Golden, Delicate Taste,

(ii) Amber, Rich Taste,

(iii) Dark, Robust Taste, or

(iv) Very Dark, Strong Taste; and

(d) it has a maple flavour characteristic of its colour class and is free from any objectionable odour or taste.

2. Maple syrup, other than that graded as “Canada Grade A”, may be graded as “Canada Processing Grade” if it meets the requirements set out in section 5 of these Regulations.

Schedule III of the regulations defines the colour class requirements as follows:

SCHEDULE III

(Section 2 and paragraphs 5(1)(f) and 19(1)(c))

COLOUR CLASSES OF “CANADA GRADE A” MAPLE SYRUP

1. The determination of the light transmission of “Canada Grade A” maple syrup shall be made optically by means of

(a) a spectrophotometer using matched square optical cells having a 10 mm light path at a wavelength of 560 nm, the colour values being expressed in per cent of light transmission as compared to A.R. Glycerol fixed at 100 per cent transmission; or

(b) a visual glass comparator, the optical specifications of which correspond as closely as possible to the method described in paragraph (a).

2. “Canada Grade A” maple syrup shall be regarded as in a colour class set out in Column I of the table if its percentage of light transmission is that set out in Column II.

Item Colour Class Percentage of Light Transmission
1 Golden, Delicate Taste (Doré, goût délicat) not less than 75.0
2 Amber, Rich Taste (Ambré, goût riche) less than 75.0
but not less than 50.0
3 Dark, Robust Taste (Foncé, goût robuste) less than 50.0
but not less than 25.0
4 Very Dark, Strong Taste (Très foncé, goût prononcé) less than 25.0

SOR/2014-297, s. 9.

Summary of Key Federal Changes

  • Maple syrup grades are now referred to as either “Canada Grade A” or “Canada Processing Grade”.
  • Maple syrup package labels must now contain the colour class descriptor of the grade of syrup
  • Federally registered producers will now have to change their grading and their labelling to conform to the new grade standards.
  • A two-year implementation period will provide time for producers to meet the new requirements.

Additional details on the new Maple Product Regulations can be found in the Canada Gazette registration documents located here.

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.