FSA Letter, 9 August 2002
In December last year, a revised EC Directive (2001/113/EC) relating to fruit jams, jellies and marmalades, and sweetened chestnut puree intended for human consumption was adopted. The revised Directive, replaces the existing EC Jams Directive (79/693) and continues to set reserved descriptions and compositional standards for the products named in its title. It lays down the fruit and sugar contents of jams jellies and marmalades and in addition includes some extra labelling requirements specific to these products.
The new Directive comes into force on 12 July 2003, and the Food Standards Agency is currently in the process of producing domestic Regulations to implement the new Directive, and to provide for its enforcement. These Regulations will replace the current Jams and Similar Products Regulations 1981 (as amended). The current Jams Regulations contain certain additional reserved descriptions specific to the UK only. These were not provided for by the 1979 Directive, and are also not included in the new revised Directive. Specifically, these reserved descriptions are, '[x] Curd' and '[Y] Flavour Curd', 'Lemon Cheese' and 'Mincemeat'.
The FSA are seeking views therefore on whether the reserved descriptions for some or all of these products should be retained in any new Jams Regulations. Alternatively, the FSA could simply restrict the new domestic Regulations to only those reserved descriptions that are specifically provided for by the new Directive.
In addition, the current Jam Regulations provide for the marketing of reduced sugar jam, jelly and marmalade, having a soluble solids content of between 30% and 55% (i.e., lower than the 60% minimum for jam, jelly and marmalade in general). While the new Directive does not explicitly include these reduced sugar products, it does allow Member States to authorise the use of the reserved descriptions for products having a soluble solids content below 60%. It is currently the FSA's intention to continue to allow reduced sugar products to be marketed using the reserved descriptions.
Reduced sugar products are currently required to be labelled with the words 'reduced sugar' in the name of the food, and also (as in the case with all jam and similar products) with the total sugar content. In addition, reduced sugar products not containing preservatives must carry the statement 'keep in a cool place once opened'. The FSA propose to retain these provisions but would welcome views on the current limits set for the soluble solids content for reduced sugar products and whether these are appropriate for the current market.
It is anticipated that draft implementing Regulations, to replace the existing Jams and Similar Products Regulations, will be issued for public consultation early in the New Year. The Agency is also preparing Guidance Notes and a Regulatory Impact Assessment to accompany the new Regulations. These will be issued for consultation at the same time.