New European Regulations would have required 'brandy, rum and sherry butter' to meet a minimum milk fat content of 34% or be renamed, but the UK have secured a derogation ensuring their minimum fat content will not exceed 20%.
Responding to a Parliamentary Question from Eric Martlew MP, Food Minister Jeff Rooker today said:
"I am pleased to announce that following discussions with the industry, the European Commission and other Member States, we have managed to secure a derogation that will lower the minimum milk fat content of brandy, rum and sherry butter from 34% to 20%, thereby ensuring that these traditional alcoholic butters can continue to be made using the traditional recipes enjoyed by the UK consumer for many years."
Commission Regulation 577/97 lays down rules for the application of Council Regulations on spreadable fats and the protection of dairy designations and currently specifies that, from April 1999, alcoholic butters (e.g. brandy and rum butters) may only be so described if they contain sufficient butter to meet a 34% minimum milk fat level. Ambient (or shelf-stable) alcoholic butters typically contain only 20-28% milk fat and would have been required to be renamed.
Following discussion by the European Commission's Joint Milk, and Fats and Oils Management Committees, an amendment to the Regulation has been adopted which reduces the minimum milk fat content of traditional 'brandy butter', 'rum butter' and 'sherry butter' from 34 to 20%.