The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a September 2016 Consumer Update describing how to determine if a product contains real maple syrup as a flavoring agent. Specifically, the agency urges consumers to look at the ingredient list for the term “maple syrup” and not rely solely on depictions of maple leaves or the word “maple” displayed on the front of packaging.

“Current regulations allow use of terms like ‘maple,’ ‘maple-flavored,’ or ‘artificially maple-flavored’ on the food label without having any maple syrup in the product, as long as it contains maple flavoring,” clarifies FDA. “This flavoring could come from a number of sources, including sap or bark from the maple tree. Or it could come from the herb fenugreek, which can impart a maple-like flavor.”

Noting that similar rules apply to some fruit flavorings, the agency explains that terms such as “artificial flavors” or “natural and artificial flavors” indicate “that the original source of the flavor may not have been used in the food.” As the Director of FDA’s Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling Douglas Balentine states, “Ultimately we want consumers to be able to make informed choices about their foods, and FDA’s job is to make sure consumers know what they’re getting.”