Anger spreads over EU ban on re-used jam jars

There is growing concern among jam-makers following the threat of fines under EU health and safety rules about jars.

EU ban on re-used jam jar
EU ban on re-used jam jar

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The regulations ban the re-use of jam jars in any homemade produce to be donated or sold, which may put an end to conserves and chutney stalls at summer fetes, church fairs and other charity events.

Enforcement of the rules is down to individual local authorities and so far there have been no prosecutions.

But both the Women's Institute and the Churches' Legislation Advisory Service, a body linked to the Church of England, have warned members that re-using jars could result in a £5,000 fine or even a spell behind bars.

Following advice from the Food Standards Agency, the Churches' Legislation Advisory Service sent a letter, tellingly headed 'this is not a spoof', to parishes warning that members should not "make jam, put it in re-used jam jars then either sell it or even give it away at a public event".

The news was met with disbelief by many.

According to the Daily Mail, Canon Michael Tristram of Portsmouth Cathedral said: "On realising that this was not a belated April Fool's joke, I was very anxious, not only from the fund-raising point of view, but also because it goes against the green agenda of recycling.

"We jam and marmalade-makers sterilise our jars as a matter of course."

Baking guru Mary Berry was similarly amazed, saying: "This is absolutely stupid. We are encouraging people to save money by using fruits to make chutneys and jam, and if they have to buy new jars it will become much too expensive. It's daft."

A spokesman for the FSA confirmed that the EU rule existed, but suggested there was no evidence to say that re-using jars presented "a food safety concern in terms of migration of chemicals from jam jars into food".

What do you think? Will the EU rule put an end to traditional jam and chutney stalls? Leave your comments below...