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Expert: Trader Joe’s Syrup Doesn’t Make the Grade

From Associated Press

Some maple syrup being sold by the trendy specialty food retailer Trader Joe’s Co. is striking a sour note in New England.

A Massachusetts association of maple syrup producers claims the Monrovia-based chain is selling lower-grade imported syrup as Grade A.

Henry Marckres, who heads the Vermont agriculture department’s testing laboratory, said one sample he tested was close to commercial grade, which federal regulators have limited to uses such as curing tobacco and bacon.

The problem, Marckres said, is “someone who buys this stuff probably wouldn’t ever buy a bottle of maple syrup again.”

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“It’s hurting the good image of our product,” said Tom McCrumm, coordinator of the 200-member Massachusetts Maple Producers Assn.

The retailer, which operates 217 stores in 17 states, including more than 70 stores in Southern California, said it would conduct an independent laboratory test on the syrup and would take it off the shelves if it is mislabeled.

“This issue was just brought to our attention late last week,” said Diane O’Conner, a spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s. “We rely on our vendors’ honesty. We’ve been working with them for years and have never had a problem, but we are taking this very seriously.”

She declined to identify the Canadian firms that produced the syrup sold under the Trader Joe’s label.

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Grade A syrup typically sells for $10 to $15 a quart in Massachusetts. Cooking or Grade B syrup sells for $1 to $2 less, McCrumm said, with commercial grade syrup going for less than $5 a quart.


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