Thursday, December 9, 2010

Log Cabin "All Natural Syrup" in Jugs Hoodwinks Consumers

Here's additional evidence that the marketing ploys employed by the processed foodstuffs companies work.

Log Cabin recently released an “all natural syrup” that comes in a jug resembling an authentic maple syrup jug (photo, right). The product, though, is not real maple syrup.

Instead, its ingredients are “syrup (brown rice, sugar, maple [4%]), water, natural flavor, xanthan gum (natural thickener), caramel color,
citric acid.” Technically, it is all natural—dog doody is all natural as well—but the labeling and packaging also make it mighty deceiving.

How do I know?

One of my clients just bought this Log Cabin product to improve on the Aunt Jemima syrup her family was previously consuming. Her reason was straightforward and typical.

“It was in the jug and it said ‘All Natural,’” she said.

I mentioned this episode to Tony Van Glad, who sells his maple syrup (photo, below) at a local farmers’ market. He knew about the product, as the New York State Maple Producers Association (he sits on its Board of Directors) sent a letter of complaint in September to the New York
State Department of Agriculture and Markets questioning Log Cabin’s labeling and packaging.

“It misleads th
e consumer into thinking they are buying real maple syrup,” Van Glad said.

Van Glad said the letter, which was also sent to local and state elected officials, further questioned why the Log Cabin product was shelved in such close proximity to real maple syrup. Its cheaper price
could additionally sway purchasing decisions.

The Maple Producers Association recently heard back from the state, which said it is looking into the issue. I know a consumer who will provide expert testimony if asked.

10 comments:

Chef Thoughts... said...

It's frustrating how many products are like that now. "All natural" doesn't mean a thing anymore. Reading ingredient labels is so important.

Just came across your blog a couple days ago and it's great. Thanks for addressing the truth concerning our food and health.

wordvixen said...

Yes! That new jug drives me nuts! I don't often see Grade B maple syrup in our local grocery stores, but I check often just in case. That's when I saw that jug and got all excited that Log Cabin got into the maple syrup business... until I took a closer look.

Although, it really is a huge step up from Aunt Jemima.

Anonymous said...

Log Cabin is unquestionably trying to mislead consumers, but who are they misleading? People who fail to turn the bottle around and read the ingredients. The best solution to problems like this isn't to have the state policing labels for relatively minor deceptions--it's for people to turn the bottle around and learn about what they're buying.

Anonymous said...

Hello Rob
I'm back on your blog now from a long hiatus. My wife's been keeping up, but I got inundated w/ work. I'm glad to be reading it again, however.

I wanted to comment on Anonymous' (3:39 pm) post. It is true: the best solution is not state intervention. That's rarely, if ever, the best thing. And I believe the service that blogs like yours and people like you and my wife perform is in increasing awareness amongst the populace, encouraging them to not be afraid to try to learn about what they're buying, cooking, and eating.

But it would be much better still if cigarette, alcohol, fat explosion, etc. companies policed themselves. That, I suppose, is largely naive, but there are responsible (and profitable) companies out there. But to pretend that "personal responsibility" means only that consumers must work harder, and not that businesses must work harder or profit slightly less through non-manipulative advertising, is unfair.

So, since the great majority (and since the most powerful of them) don't police themselves, as long as there are impressionable people around, and as long as other people's actions and poor choices have direct and indirect effects on other people, I'm ok w/ small interventions on the part of the government. (There is, of course, vagueness in what counts as "small"; but we have to draw arbitrary lines w/ many issues.)

Thank you as always for the work you do,
Jon in South Carolina

Anonymous said...

Actually, this product does not have sodium benzoate in it like most syrups, a known carcinogen, so it is a much better choice than the typical Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima syrups.

Mira O' said...

It's a step in the right direction with No Fructose Corn Syrup and Rice Syrup instead of all Sugar. I am glad they offer it. Not everyone can afford Maple Syrup so this is a good intermediary step for those trying to make better choices.

Anonymous said...

I actually bought this knowing it was brown rice syrup. The product was not claiming to be 100% maple syrup, so don't slam it for labeling. Maple syrup has polyphenols my son should not have due to his Down syndrome, as maple syrup will up regulate the SOD1 gene to exacerbate hypotonia among other issues, and with the low percentage of maple syrup in this product, the level of polyphenols is significantly reduced. It is also gluten free and no high fructose corn syrup. I would not shun this syrup just because it isn't 100% maple. Sometimes for some people, maple syrup is not the best. That said, this is a poorly written article--it does not consider that this product may actually be a better fit for some populations. A good article would explore and discuss all sides of an issue. Don't be so closed with your own self-decided narrow definition of healthy that you cannot see all sides of an issue.

Unknown said...

AMEN Anonymous entry on 07-07!!

worldromer said...

I am not a Log Cabin fan but really, the jug does NOT say the word MAPLE. It says Log Cabin Syrup and we all know Log Cabin has never been in the business of selling Maple Syrup. At least this version is 4% Maple vs. most others that have no maple but rather artificial ingredients, fructose etc. The fact that the product uses a smeaky maple like jug does not trump the fact that it does not say maple anywhere except in its ingredients, where it belongs.

Kelly B said...

Some members of my family actually prefer the taste of "artificial" maple syrup to real, but I would never buy it for them because of the preservatives and HFC. But now THIS product is something I can indulge them with. It tastes just exactly the same without the nasty ingredients!. Health wise, maple is o healthier than sugar or brown rice syrup, so that point is moot.