Québec Maple Syrup is Graded for Quality
Québec is the only jurisdiction in the world that has its maple syrup independently evaluated for quality. The organization tasked with measuring the characteristics of syrup produced and provided in bulk (barrels) is Centre ACER, Inspection Division.
Maple syrup is graded to establish its market value, according to criteria determined by agreement between producers and authorized buyers.
This process involves the tasting, inspection, classification, and certification of 300,000 barrels of Québec maple syrup every year. It ensures that the syrup in each barrel is food-safe, pure, and authentic.
The Grading Process
Even as the busy springtime production season is underway, maple syrup is loaded into barrels and sent for laboratory inspection. ACER’s Inspection Division conducts the following evaluations:
Light transmission is the primary method used to grade maple syrup. Spectrophotometry measures the percentage of light that passes through liquid. In this way, maple syrup is classified into the appropriate category.
The process involves the observation and measurement of specific characteristics such as colour, and the others enumerated below.
There are two categories of maple syrup—Grade A and Processing Grade—and four colour classifications.
Which Maple Syrup is Right for Me? It’s a Matter of Taste.
Regardless of category, Québec maple syrup is a high-quality, 100% natural product. Its splendid flavour is yours to enjoy in whatever way you choose.
Inspectors use an instrument called a refractometer to measure the soluble solids in maple syrup. It must have a minimum of 66% in sugar content.
This test is conducted with a device called SpectrAcer. It ensures 100% purity and the characteristic taste of maple. If any adulteration is detected, the syrup is destroyed before it reaches the consumer.
This is a visual inspection for any suspended matter in a sample of maple syrup.
This is a professional taste test of every barrel of maple syrup to ensure there are no abnormalities.
- A tester will taste about 250 samples of maple syrup in a single day!
Inspectors check every barrel of syrup for traces of lead. If residue concentration is measured at greater than 0.20 ppm, the syrup is sent for further analysis. If it exceeds 0.25 ppm, the syrup is destroyed. This protocol falls under Québec regulations which are twice as strict as those in the rest of Canada.
Labelling and Storage
After the full round of analyses, barrels of maple syrup are labelled with the results, and their price is set. The syrup is pasteurized and put into new barrels for storage. (The original barrels are returned to the producers.) Québec maple syrup is warehoused under optimal conditions in the Strategic Reserve until it is purchased.
Quality and Health Standards
Québec maple syrup producers operate under strict quality standards. Their products are subject to the food safety, inspection, grading, packaging, and trademark requirements set out in the Maple Products Regulations under the Canada Agricultural Products Act.
The Maple Products Regulations stipulate that:
- All maple products must come solely from the concentration of maple sap or maple syrup. There may be no substitutes;
- Maple substitutes and maple-flavoured products must be properly labelled as to not represent themselves as pure maple products.
Watch the classification process.
Certifications for Maple Syrup and Maple Water