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September 08, 2010

Welch Fights Back Against "Natural" Syrup

Log+Cabin+All+NaturalRep. 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.

Log Cabin should include Dark Amber on it's label and really through Pete for a loop! I grew up on the's comfort food as Dad always made waffles topped with Log Cabin syrup. I can't wait to try the all new natural Log Cabin. Thanks for the heads up.

I'm thinking that the process by which xanthan gum is produced is anything but natural.

I'm with Welch. Mot only is the name misleading but they have obviously gone out their way to use packaging identical to what is used for real maple syrup.

I love this line from the Log Cabin site - "Log Cabin® has been making authentic, maple tasting syrup for 120 years"

Authentic tasting? Please.

Caramel Color, Xanthan Gum and the syrups are not natural ingredients. To paraphrase something I heard recently on the 'Ban High Fructose Corn Syrup' page - "If it has to take a trip to the chemistry lab to be produced, it's not natural, it is then an artificial product." Table Sugar, Rice & Corn Syrups, Fructose, Sucrose and the lot are processed from other products - meaning they are all artificial ingredients. You can compare the process to make those items to a similar process that takes place with coca leaves to make the end product of cocaine. They are highly concentrated, modified in chemical baths, combined and recombined into something, and in ways, that mother nature would not be able to replicate.

Two questions for Ms. Ober: Everything, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, is found in nature so what is unnatural? Does it have to be a wide screen TV in the bottle to meet your criteria for "not natural"? Pure maple syrup is modified only by heating. This "product" is a combination of 96% non-maple syrup ingredients and just enough maple to fool you and others whose taste buds have been convinced that Twinkies are also nutritious and natural.

I like Twinkies. But I really like Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets.

Wait, what was the question?

I saw this on wcax the other night. Funniest part was that Hannaford is happily selling this product. What a slap in the face to maple syrup loving vermonters.

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