Legal Strategies to Address the Misrepresentation of Vermont Maple Syrup

March 2004

Issue: 59 Food and Drug Law Journal 93-132 (2004).

In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has focused its efforts on food safety and nutrition, only sporadically exercising its authority to police representations about the geographic origin, purity, and quality of food products. Meanwhile, consumers have become more interested in the origin of foods, and food producers have increasingly recognized the value of brands. As a result, misrepresentation of food products has become a widespread problem, creating consumer confusion and undermining the reputation of food producers. This problem has harshly affected Vermont maple syrup producers. FDA and others must take a more vigilant stance to address the misrepresentation of Vermont maple syrup and other foods. Available legal strategies include securing trademarks, obtaining marketing orders, negotiating in the shadow of existing laws, reformulating standards of identity, creating an appellation of origin system, and establishing new labeling requirements.


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