Sugarhouse Registration

If the pan doesn't have lead-solder, and the thermometer doesn't contain mercury, this rig might just pass inspection.

Rumors have been swirling in sugarmaking circles about government registration of sugarhouses in all the states where maple syrup is produced. We asked Matthew Gordon, the new executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, to shed some light on this.

Gordon told us that the push for registration began in 2002 as part of the Bioterrorism Act, that regulations were modernized as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, and that registration is recommended for anyone who makes and sells syrup.

You can register online, which is a two-part process. First you need to set up an account  with the FDA here. Then you need to submit the registration; this link offers step-by-step instructions. If the online registration is too frustrating, you can download a paper copy here.

It’s probably safe to say that all sugarmakers are on board with the idea of doing their part to keep the sap supply safe from an act of terrorism, but they’re also concerned that by involving the FDA and registering their sugarhouse as a “food facility,” they’ll open themselves up to invasive bureaucratic meddling. Will sugarhouses soon be required to have hot running water and flush toilets? Will wool caps and Carhartt jackets be replaced by hair nets and aprons?

Gordon said that to some extent this is still an open question. The government has determined that sugarmaking is a low-risk activity and exempt from the most stringent food safety regulations, but they will be requiring “good manufacturing practices” that were still in the proposed/open-to-comment phase at press time.

While the final regulations will likely fall closer to “annoying” than “truly onerous” on the pain-inthe-butt scale, it’s probably safe to say that the days of boiling eggs and hot dogs in the front pan will soon be over.


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