Lab Canada

Spectroscopy ensures purity of Quebec’s maple syrup

Montreal, QC – As it gears up for the approaching 2012 harvest, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers says it has been investing in developing reliable, state-of-the-art tools to guarantee the quality and authenticity of maple syrup during the grading process. One of these new tools is an electronic tongue that uses optical spectroscopy to analyze a sample of maple syrup. Dubbed the SpectreAcer, the system is being developed in cooperation with Centre Acer and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

With the recent publicity about the benefits of maple in health columns around the world, demand for maple products has been growing. To prevent consumers from being duped by sellers looking to boost their profits with counterfeit products, this instrument has shown strong potential in detecting flavour defects, adulteration and presence of foreign sugars in maple syrup and sap, with 98% accuracy.

“In good years and bad, some 200,000 barrels are graded and inspected by fifteen teams who travel to federation and buyers’ warehouses,” says Serge Beaulieu, FPAQ president. “This new tool will provide an efficient, reliable, affordable and user-friendly way to analyze multiple characteristics of syrup at the same time. In 2012, we are devoting resources to test two of these devices and hope to develop fifteen of them next year—one for each team of syrup inspectors.

“In addition, a draft regulation for controlling maple syrup quality in the retail market will soon be in the works, as maple producers have requested from the FPAQ,” he adds. “Authorized maple syrup buyers here and abroad who buy barrels of syrup must be assured the Quebec product is pure. We will be the only ones who can prove this” says Serge Beaulieu, FPAQ president.