In a jam over non-existent EU rules


October 12, 2012
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Rating: 4.4/5 (26 votes cast)

Recent media coverage on reusing jars for homemade jams for sale at charity events certainly fired up the imagination of the headline writers: “EU elf ‘n safety tsars ban jam sales at fetes” and “anger spreads over EU fines threat for reusing old jam jars”, “EU fine for homemade jam makers”. This is all completely untrue. There are no EU laws, new or old, which ban re-using old jam jars for fetes. The EU also has no powers to fine people.

There is indeed a body of EU food safety and hygiene legislation – notably so that the UK and other countries can be confident that food imported from or bought elsewhere in the EU is safe and of high quality. But these rules apply only to business operators and not to those preparing food for charity events such as church fetes or school bazaars.

What is more, the rules do not anyway ban re-using clean jam jars:  the European  Commission is not aware of any risk from chemicals related to this re-use.

The Daily Telegraph to its credit reported this properly on 7 October, saying that the Church of England had issued guidance and quoting the UK Food Safety Authority explaining that the interpretation of the regulations was the responsibility of local authorities, who would decide what constituted a “food business” and adding that “an occasional event, like a fund-raiser… would probably not be considered to be a food business.”

The Express then span this into a ridiculous story about “meddling Brussels bureaucrats”. The Mail did at least mention that the FSA had said enforcement was down to individual local authorities…but left this until paragraph 7 of a story misleadingly headlined “Anger spreads over EU fines threat for reusing old jam jars.” The Telegraph then had another piece – at least it was an intentionally funny one – blaming EU Directives after all.

While BBC Radio 4 You and Yours covered the story sensibly, BBC Breakfast ran an item that assumed wrongly that the EU has banned jam jars.

None of the media who produced these seriously misleading stories contacted the European Commission first.

More misleading grist to the EU-bashing mill……

In a jam over non-existent EU rules, 4.4 out of 5 based on 26 ratings
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One Response to “In a jam over non-existent EU rules”

  1. countofundolpho says:

    Even the House of Commons has joined in!
    Early Day Motion 590

    JAM JARS

    Session: 2012-13
    Date tabled: 17.10.2012
    Primary sponsor: Shannon, Jim
    Sponsors:

    Bottomley, Peter
    Donaldson, Jeffrey
    Hopkins, Kelvin
    McCrea, Dr William
    Simpson, David

    That this House condemns the EU health and safety regulation that will prevent the reuse of jam jars for preserves, chutney and jam; and calls on the Government to inform the EU that such rules are totally unacceptable and will not be adhered to.

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