A new product has caught the eye of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. McDonald's new Fruit and Maple oatmeal has sparked controversy over the use of the word maple in the product's name and advertising.
"Our maple laws say if it's a natural maple product it has to have maple syrup. And it has to show that it has maple syrup and they haven't done that yet," former Vt. Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee said.
The oatmeal's ingredients include natural maple flavoring. Vermont agriculture officials would like to see McDonald's add real maple syrup to their product. If not, the state law requires McDonald's to remove the word maple from the product's name and advertising.
"We have communicated to McDonald's that in order for them to be in compliance with the product, because we want them to do the right thing, they have to change the ingredients and labeling and we hope they do that," Allbee said.
According to McDonald's, they are listening to Vermont's request. The company issued a statement to WCAX News saying: "McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal contains oatmeal, diced apples, cranberries, raisins, cream and a proprietary blend of natural flavors. McDonald's is currently in discussions with the State of Vermont to ensure that we meet any applicable state standards."
"We'll give them 60 to 90 days, certainly that's appropriate," Allbee said. "We really do think they'll do the right thing."
McDonald's also told us that the ingredient listed as natural maple flavor is acceptable under federal Food and Drug Administration regulations. But Vermont officials insist that's not good enough to use the word maple in the labeling and marketing of the product.
This is the second big corporation the state has challenged recently. Pinnacle Foods, maker of Log Cabin syrup, recently came under fire from Vermont maple producers for selling a new line of syrup with the words "all natural" on the label. The product is not maple syrup, but does include 4 percent of it along with other ingredients like Xanthan Gum and caramel coloring. Congressman Peter Welch along with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture sent letters to the FDA claiming that Log Cabin is falsely advertising as a natural product.
Pinnacle Foods decided to slightly change their product by removing Xanthan gum and citric acid. But the company kept its controversial marketing and packaging strategies.