The sticky combination of the EU and jam has hit the headlines again with press reports announcing British jam manufacturer, Clippy McKenna, had won her fight against Brussels’ red tape to be able to market her produce as jam.
Except she hadn’t needed to fight “Brussels” because the rules – that the UK agreed – have always allowed the UK government to make exceptions to cater for cases like Ms McKenna’s.
She had found herself, in her words, “in jam no-man’s land”, because the sugar content of her produce did not meet the minimum 60% set out in EU rules, meaning she was unable to market her jam, as jam.
With headlines such as: “Ridiculous EU jam laws cut back by Vince Cable” (The Telegraph’s print version read: “Sweet success for Cable on EU jam regulation”), “When is jam not a jam? When the EU says it should be a fruit spread” “Vince Cable seeks to clear jam over EU ruling on fruit preserves“, readers could be forgiven for believing that the EU rules were a recipe for disaster.
However, what many of the reports failed to explain is that the same EU rules setting down the minimum sugar content for jams, also give member states the option to apply for an exemption to reduce this threshold. Something other EU member states have already done. So their producers have long been able to apply lower sugar content thresholds.
Some may still not find the EU rules to their taste. However, Clippy McKenna’s particular problem simply boiled down to the way the EU law was written into UK national regulations.
UK authorities have now said they will put things right for her and launch a consultation to amend the Jam and similar products (England) Regulations 2003.
Clippy McKenna explains to Julian Worricker BBC Radio 4, You and Yours about her campaigning, how she discovered the EU rules permit member states some flexibility and her appeals to Business Secretary Vince Cable to assist in getting the UK law amended