On January 3rd, McDonald’s introduced a new product across America: Fruit & Maple Oatmeal. It’s available all day and includes apples, raisins and cranberries. The flavor of the oatmeal comes from “natural maple flavoring.” There’s just one problem: In my home state of Vermont, lovers of all things maple syrup, “natural maple flavoring” is simply not enough. To legally use the term “maple” in the name, the product must contain actual maple syrup.
The product has already attracted the attention of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture:
“Our maple laws say if it’s a natural maple product it has to have maple syrup,” former Vt. Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee said.
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.
While the state has indicated they will give McDonald’s 60-90 days to figure out what to do, the issue is being treated seriously by the company. It issued a statement saying, “McDonald’s is currently in discussions with the State of Vermont to ensure that we meet any applicable state standards.”
What do you think readers? Is this appropriate action by Vermont to defend one of its most important industries? Or should individual states not be able to dictate product naming when it’s not an issue for the company in the other 49 states? What about McDonald’s? Does it matter if the product uses real maple syrup or not, as long as it still tastes like maple?