Fetes saved from sticky situation

Widespread media reports last week that re-using jars for homemade jam is to be banned by the EU were totally false.

Headline writers at several national newspapers got fired up last week covering the story in sensational style: ‘EU elf ‘n safety tsars ban jam sales at fetes’ and ‘Anger spreads over EU fines threat for re-using 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.

Sadly none of the media outlets chose to check with the European Union before running the stories.

There is indeed a body of EU food safety and hygiene legislation – 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 ban re-using clean jam jars even in the case of ‘food businesses’.

Village fetes and WI groups can stand down. The great British tradition of selling home-made jams and chutneys at fetes has a bright future. There are no plans for ban or anything like it.

This was just a case of over-excitement by some newspapers. It’s unfortunate when stories like this get out of hand so just remember if you hear a story which sounds made up, it probably is.


Labour MEP for the South East, New Road, Rochester, Kent