Labelling jams

The law relating to the labelling of jam and similar products such as marmalade is governed by the Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003.

The Regulations apply to jam and similar products, intended for human consumption that are sold to consumers and catering establishments. The Regulations do not apply to jam and similar products used in the manufacture of fine bakery wares, pastries or biscuits and do not apply to certain products imported into England.

Reserved descriptions

The following descriptions of products are referred to as “reserved descriptions”:

  • Jam;
  • Extra Jam;
  • Jelly;
  • Extra Jelly;
  • Jelly Marmalade;
  • Marmalade;
  • Sweetened chestnut purée;
  • X curd;
  • Lemon cheese;
  • Y flavour curd;
  • Mincemeat.

The Regulations set out detailed criteria which must be met before a product can be described using one of these reserved descriptions.

The Regulations prohibit the sale of food with a label which bears, comprises or includes a reserved description unless:

  • the product corresponds with the reserved description for that product in question;
  • the description, derivative or word used is used in a context which indicates that it relates only to an ingredient of the food in question; or
  • the description is used in addition to the name of the food and in accordance with practices used to designate other products and it cannot be confused with one of the reserved descriptions.

This prohibition extends to derivates of reserved descriptions and to words and descriptions which are substantially similar.

Labelling

When jam or similar products are sold they must be marked or labelled. The mark or label must contain the following information:

  • the reserved description of the product;
  • if the product has a residual sulphur dioxide content of more than 10 milligrams per kilogram, that residual content must be stated in the list of ingredients according to its percentage by weight of the residue in the product as “sulphur dioxide”.

In the case of jam, extra jam, jelly, extra jelly, jelly marmalade, marmalade and sweetened chestnut purée:

  • an indication of the type of fruit, in the case of products prepared from a single type of fruit;
  • an indication of the types of fruit, in the case of products prepared from two types of fruit, in descending order of the weight of the fruit pulp, fruit purée, fruit juice, fruit peel and aqueous extract of fruit used in the preparation of the product;
  • an indication of the types of fruit, in the case of products prepared from three or more types of fruit, in descending order of the weight of the fruit pulp, fruit purée, fruit juice, fruit peel and aqueous extract of fruit used in the preparation of the product or alternatively the words “mixed fruit” or similar wording or an indication as to the number of types of fruit used in the preparation of the product; and
  • an indication of the proportion of fruit used, including fruit pulp, fruit purée, fruit juice, fruit peel and aqueous extract of fruit. The words “prepared with Xg of fruit per 100g” should be used and such information should appear in the same field of vision as the name of the product and in clearly visible characters;
  • an indication of the total sugar content (unless a nutritional claim is made regarding the sugar content, i.e. where the product is marked or labelled as reduced sugar content, in which case the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 apply). The words “total sugar content: Yg per 100g” should be used and such information should appear in the same field of vision as the name of the product and in clearly visible characters.

The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 contain requirements as to the manner in which food should be marked or labelled.

Permitted additional ingredients

In the case of jam, extra jam, jelly, extra jelly, jelly marmalade, marmalade and sweetened chestnut purée only certain additional ingredients may be used. These are as follows:

  • honey as a total or partial substitute for sugars;
  • fruit juice, although this is only permitted in relation to jam;
  • citrus fruit juice in products obtained from other types of fruit, although this can only be used in relation to jam, extra jam, jelly and extra jelly;
  • red fruit juices, although these can only be used in jam and extra jam made from rosehips, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, plums and rhubarb;
  • red beetroot juice, although this can only be used in jam and jelly made from strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and plums;
  • essential oils of citrus fruits, although these can only be used in marmalade and jelly marmalade;
  • edible oils and fats as anti-foaming agents;
  • liquid pectin;
  • citrus peel, although this can only be used in jam, extra jam, jelly and extra jelly;
  • pelargonium odoratissimum leaves, although these can only be used in jam, extra jam, jelly and extra jelly, where they are made from quince;
  • spirits, wine and liqueur wine, nuts, aromatic herbs, spices, vanilla and vanilla extracts;
  • vanilline;
  • any substance allowed by Council Directive 89/107/EEC.

Authorised treatment for products

In the case of jam, extra jam, jelly, extra jelly, jelly marmalade, marmalade and sweetened chestnut purée it is permissible to heat, chill, freeze, freeze-dry, concentrate fruit, fruit pulp, fruit purée and aqueous extract of fruit.

In relation to jam, jelly, jelly marmalade, marmalade and sweetened chestnut purée the use of sulphur dioxide (E220) or its salts (E221, E222, E223, E224, E226 and E227) is permitted as an aid to manufacture as long as the maximum permitted sulphur-dioxide content set out in Directive 95/2/EC(3) is not exceeded.

It is permissible to dry, but not freeze-dry, apricots and plums for use in jam and it is permissible to preserve citrus peel in brine.

Failure to comply with the Regulations

Contravention of the Regulations is a criminal offence punishable by a fine. However, a defence is available in certain circumstances in relation to exported products.