Maple syrup is another sweetener which may sometimes be a concern to vegans. The process of making maple syrup requires an agent to reduce the foam on the syrup by adding a small amount of fat to the liquid.
The traditional process of reducing the foam in maple syrup has included the use of lard. Previously, local producers would hang pork fat over a tub of maple syrup and let drops of fat drip into the syrup. Others used milk, cream or butter. If animal products are used in the form of lard or milk, the amount is minute. For example, eight to ten gallons of syrup will involve a quarter of a teaspoon of cream or a pea-sized drop of butter.
Vegetable oil is a common defoaming agent. It can be applied to the end of a wooden stick and dipped into the foaming part of the maple syrup. Most manufacturers of maple syrup now use vegetable oil or synthetic defoamers instead of lard.
One commercial defoamer (called Atmos300K) is composed of monoglycerides and diglycerides. According to WITCO, the producer of this defoamer, these glycerides are derived from "edible meat and/or vegetable sources." Another leading brand of defoamer, Reynolds Magic Syrup Defoamer, also contains acetylated monoglycerides as an ingredient (7).
Well known brands of pancake maple syrups, such as Mrs. Butterworths or Log Cabin, usually contain only 2-5% maple syrup. Corn syrup is the main ingredient of most pancake syrups. Pure maple syrup will have a grade label and state "100% Pure Maple Syrup." (8)
It may be difficult to determine whether a particular brand of syrup has an animal or vegetable based defoamer. Most syrups do not use lard, with the exception of certain small-scale products. Brands which are kosher certified, such as Spring Tree or Maple Groves, are unlikely to contain animal products in their defoamers. Holsum Foods, which produces pancake syrup, also uses vegetable oil as a defoaming agent, and their product is labeled by food chains such as Dominick's, Supervalue and Superfine.