Classification Back

Quebec is the only jurisdiction in the world that systematically classifies and inspects every barrel of maple syrup produced. Depending on the harvest, this represents between 200,000 and 250,000 barrels a year.

Since 2010, the FPAQ has entrusted classification and quality control operations to an independent organization, ACER Division Inspection Inc., which publishes an information leaftlet on the quality procédures for bulk maple syrup (in French only).

Impact of Brix Degree on Maple Syrup Payments


Flavor defects

Defect symbols

Identification of defect Intensity of the defect
Slight trace of a defect: no impact
√R Unpleasant taste or odor  (√R1, √R2, √R4, √R5) = consequences
(see table below)
PG (Processing grade) Significantly unpleasant taste or odor  (PG1, PG2, PG4, PG5, PG4,PG5, PG6) = consequences (see table below)

Penalties by flavor defect



Taste Characteristics

Consequences in 2017


Natural defect

Wood, caramelized, burnt, sap

Penalty of $0.10 /lb. if √R

If PG, paid PG


Microbial defect

Mold or fermentation

Penalty of $0.10 /lb. if √R

If PG, paid PG

Retained if major defect***


Chemical defect

⇒ Automatically retained

Residues (often due to cleaning or disinfection of tubing))

Automatically retained


Unidentified defect

Any unidentified bad taste or odor  or an absence of flavor

Paid PG + possible price adjustment if sold as regular syrup


Buddy taste

Slight taste of tree buds

Paid PG


Stringy syrup

⇒ Automatically retained

Stringy syrup

Automatically retained

***        Retained syrup undergoes further analysis. It is destroyed at the producer’s expense if the results confirm the initial classification. If not, the producer is paid according to the second classification.

It is prohibited to use formaldehyde to disinfect tapholes or to slow the healing process.

Application for review

Producers may request a review of their classification.

Producers present during the classification of their maple syrup must apply for review as soon as they know the results, which are provided by the quality control inspector. In this case, the review application can cover all syrup parameters (Brix, degree of light, and flavor defects).

  • Producers who are not present they must apply within 15 working days of the classification. In this case, the review application can only cover flavor defects.
  • In both cases, they must complete the classification review application and pay a $25/barrel fee.

If the review result is better than the initial result, the $25/barrel fee will be refunded.

Food allergies

Approximately 2 to 4% of the population has food allergies and this proportion doubles among children. To ensure the authenticity, purity, and quality of maple syrup it brings to market, the FPAQ asks each producer to sign a declaration on the annual registration form indicating that they have not used any allergenic products to produce their maple syrup.

All producers who fail to sign the allergen declaration (Section 8: Registration Form) will have their barrels systematically inspected for a list of allergenic products.

Tests are also conducted randomly on other barrels. If any traces of allergen are detected, the maple syrup may be destroyed without payment to the producer. For more information on allergens, see the document entitled (in French only, English version in few days).

Food allergies are serious business!


Barrels are also randomly tested for the presence of lead. Natural traces of lead may occur in maple sap in infinitesimal amounts, which is why there is a tolerance of 0.25 parts per million. If a barrel exceeds this limit, the syrup is automatically withdrawn from the market and destroyed.

The sites of the PPAQ

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