The Course of a Barrel

Quality Control

Québec’s maple producers are unique in that they’ve developed a strict grading and inspection
system that determines the quality of their bulk maple syrup. Québec is the only place in the world that
has its own products graded and inspected by an independent organization. The ACER Centre’s Inspection
Division ensures that every barrel of maple syrup is safe, clean and authentic. These quality inspectors
are experts in sensory evaluation and physicochemical measurement. Each year, depending on the size
of the harvest, they taste, inspect and grade between 200,000 and 250,000 barrels of maple syrup.

Their inspections are conducted at the warehouse of the World Reserve of Maple Syrup, and at the premises
of authorized buyers who acquire their bulk syrup directly from maple producers.


Syrup analysis
The inspectors take samples of maple syrup and conduct the following tests:

Degrees Brix (concentration of sugar)
Inspectors use a refractometer to calculate the sugar content of the maple syrup in each barrel. Maple producers aim for between 66° Brix and 67° Brix. Sugar concentration determines barrel weight and influences the sale price of the syrup.



Testing with a device called a SpectrAcer, the characteristic taste and 100% purity of maple syrup for consumers is guaranteed. If there is any evidence of adulteration, the maple syrup is destroyed.


The inspectors look for the presence or absence in the maple syrup of any suspended matter, such as sugar crystals or carbon dioxide bubbles. 




Using a spectrophotometer, inspectors measure the percentage of light transmitted through the maple syrup. It is then classified into one of the follow categories: extra light, light, medium, amber, or dark. 



Inspectors taste all maple syrup in barrels. That accounts for 250 samples per day, and a total of 200,000 to 250,000 barrels a year! They’re checking for flavour defects which mask the natural taste of maple, in which case the syrup will be sold at a lower price. This type of syrup is graded as industrial, to be used in food processing.



The inspectors ensure there are no abnormal traces of lead in the maple syrup. When syrup is found to have a concentration of lead greater than 0.20 ppm, it undergoes further analysis. If the concentration of lead residues exceeds 0.25 ppm, the maple syrup is destroyed. The tolerance for the presence of lead is twice as strict in Québec as it is in the rest of Canada.


Labelling and pricing
Once all these analyses have been conducted, the barrels are labelled according to their respective
composition and their prices are set. In this way, buyers know all the qualities of the syrup that’s available
and they can make choices that meet their needs. 


The maple syrup is then pasteurized and placed in new barrels while the original barrels are returned
to the producers. The syrup is stocked in the strategic reserve until it is sold. Optimal storage
conditions guarantees long term preservation.
Barrels that are acquired directly from a maple producer by an authorized purchaser
are analyzed and pasteurized by the buyer.

Classification guidelines

The new government regulations for the classification of maple syrup are now in effect.
This new grading regime separates maple syrup into two categories and four colour classes.

As of December 13, 2016, maple products for export are labelled in accordance with the
new classification system. Containers of maple syrup for sale in Québec, however, may display
grading by the old or new regulations. Maple producers who sell only in Québec
have until December 2017 to change the labelling of their products
to reflect the new classification system.
Grade A 
Grade A maple syrup is obtained only by concentrating maple sap, does not ferment,
is clear and uniform in colour, is free of objectionable odor or taste,
and has a maple flavour characteristic of its colour class.
Processing Grade
Processing Grade maple syrup is obtained only by concentrating maple sap,
ut it does not qualify for Grade A. 



Classification maple products  |  PDF


Maple Products - Special Certifications

There are a number of different certifications for Maple Products from Québec, each attesting to
a particular mode of production and all affirming their superior quality. 

Organic Kosher NAPSI Other