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Stephen Mariani/MEDILL

McDonald's new oatmeal is advertised as "wholesome meets delicious" and its signs across the country picture the new promotion.

McDonald's oatmeal, not so sweet in Vermont

by Stephen Mariani
Jan 11, 2011

McDonald’s advertises its fruit and maple oatmeal as “sweet harmony,” but the fast food giant’s marketing pitch has struck a discordant note with the Vermont maple syrup industry.


“We have a set of laws and regulations, and in maple law, it has to come from the sap of the maple tree or syrup,” said Henry Marckres, consumer protection section chief of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.


McDonald’s Corp.’s new product does not meet Vermont’s strict guidelines, he says, which means it could have to change its labeling or the ingredients of the product.


“It is illegal to use ‘pure maple’ on a product that isn’t actually maple,” said Kelly Loftus, public information officer of the Vermont agriculture agency. McDonald’s fruit and maple oatmeal uses a natural maple flavor, according to McDonald’s website.


Loftus said a consumer contacted the Vermont agency after seeing the advertising of McDonald’s oatmeal. The agency sent a letter to McDonald’s addressing the issue.


In an e-mail, McDonald’s told Medill News Service that it’s “currently in discussions with the state of Vermont to ensure that we meet any applicable state standards. McDonald's fruit and maple oatmeal contains oatmeal, diced apples, cranberries, raisins, cream and a proprietary blend of natural flavors.”


Loftus said the agency wants to make it clear that it is not Vermont maple syrup in the oatmeal. “We have to make sure consumers understand when they pick up maple syrup they know what it is,” Loftus said.


“Time to time we have this issue,” Marckres said. “Our goal is to work with McDonald’s to help meet our regulations.”


McDonald’s continues to sell the oatmeal while discussions proceed.