Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Consultation Letter, 7 April 2003

COMPOSITIONAL STANDARDS - The Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003

Council Directive 2001/113/EC relating to fruit jams, jellies and marmalades and sweetened chestnut puree intended for human consumption provides for reserved sales names, and lays down compositional requirements such as minimum fruit and sugar content for jams, jellies, marmalades and sweetened chestnut puree.

Consultation details

The Directive also provides for some additional labelling requirements for these products in addition to existing food labelling laws. It replaces the existing 1979 Jams Directive (79/693/EEC) as amended. This has been implemented in the UK as the Jam and Similar Products Regulations 1981 (SI No. 1063) and subsequent amending Regulations 1990 (SI No. 2085). Directive 2001/113/EC was adopted by MSs in December 2001 and must be implemented into national legislation by 12 July 2003, To this end, the Food Standards Agency has produced various documents in relation to UK implementation, on which they invite comments.

The Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003:

This draft Statutory Instrument (SI) implements Council Directive 2001/113/EC, providing for its enforcement, creating offences and providing penalties in respect of non-compliance with the new requirements. The SI will apply in England only (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be making their own separate, but similar, legislation).

The draft SI prescribes definitions and reserved descriptions for designated jam and similar products and restricts the use of these descriptors to the products within its scope. The SI also lays down certain specific labelling or marking requirements in addition to those of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (FLR).

Provisions in the new SI are broadly in line with those of the 1981 Jams Regulations, which they replace. However, the new Regulations differ on the following points:

The Regulations also take up an optional provision in the Directive which allows Member States to authorise the use of reserved sales names for products with a soluble dry matter content of less than 60%. This is to accommodate reduced sugar products which will have a lower soluble solids content and therefore are unable to meet the 60% minimum. The new regulations require reduced sugar jams jellies and marmalades to meet a minimum soluble solids content of 25% and not more than 45% a slight decrease from current UK regulations. This decrease brings such products in line with claims for "reduced sugar" products. Views from interested parties are sought on the appropriateness of these revised figures within the current market.

Following the FSA's initial preliminary consultation last July the new Regulations retain the existing UK only provisions for mincemeat and fruit curds. These are traditional British products and are not controlled by Directive 2001/113/EC. Because such products are quite different to jams, jellies or marmalades, the UK has the power to regulate these on a national basis without infringing the Directive. Given the overwhelming views that such products should continue to be subject to legislative requirements the new regulations incorporate the provisions of the old regulations for curds and mincemeat.

The Regulations provide a mutual recognition clause for imported products whereby the compositional requirements for fruit curds and mincemeat will not apply to foods imported from other EU Member States. This exemption is required by the general principles of EU law but in practice very little if any of these foods are produced in mainland Europe; and it is not anticipated that this exemption will have a significant practical effect for UK businesses or consumers.

Guidance Notes:

The guidance notes prepared by the FSA set out and attempt to clarify the requirements of the new Regulations. They aim to provide practical advice for businesses and enforcement bodies, with the aim of achieving consistent application and enforcement of the new provisions. It is important to note that the guidance notes are non-statutory, providing advice on best practice and should be read in conjunction with the relevant legislation. They should not be taken as an authoritative statement or interpretation of the law as only the courts have this power.

Comments are requested by 28 June 2003


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