Food standards

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Jam and similar products

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In the guide

The rules for the labelling and composition of jam, marmalade, mincemeat and other similar products

This guidance is for England

The labelling and composition of jam and similar products is controlled by legislation. Jam, marmalade and certain other names are 'reserved descriptions' that can only be used to describe a product if it meets the compositional requirements of the Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003. 

There are general labelling requirements for these products as well as requirements for specific labelling stating the fruit and sugar content.

This guidance relates to the labelling of prepacked products.  

Jam & marmalade

'Jam' is a reserved description; you may only call your product 'jam' if it meets the compositional requirements of the Regulations, which state that the product must contain the following amounts of fruit (from pulp, puree or both) per kilogram of finished product:

  • 250g - redcurrants, blackcurrants, rosehips, rowanberries, sea buckthorns or quinces
  • 150g - ginger
  • 160g - cashew apples
  • 60g - passion fruit
  • 350g - any other fruit

In all cases, where the product contains multiple types of fruit you should use the combined weight of fruit.  

Marmalade is also a reserved description and is required to contain not less than 200g of citrus fruit (from pulp, puree, rind, juice or any combination) per kilogram of the finished product; at least 75g of this must come from the 'endocarp' (in citrus fruits this is the main part of the fruit, the part that is usually eaten). Marmalade can only be made from citrus fruits.

Other reserved descriptions include 'extra jam', 'jelly' and 'extra jelly'; in each case the minimum amount of fruit per kilogram of finished product is as follows:

Extra jam:

  • 350g - redcurrants, blackcurrants, rosehips, rowanberries, sea buckthorns or quinces
  • 250g - ginger
  • 230g - cashew apples
  • 80g - passion fruit
  • 450g - any other fruit

Jelly:

  • 250g - redcurrants, blackcurrants, rosehips, rowanberries, sea buckthorns or quinces
  • 150g - ginger
  • 160g - cashew apples
  • 60g - passion fruit
  • 350g - any other fruit

Extra jelly:

  • 350g - redcurrants, blackcurrants, rosehips, rowanberries, sea buckthorns or quinces
  • 250g - ginger
  • 230g - cashew apples
  • 80g - passion fruit
  • 450g - any other fruit

Jelly marmalade is the same as marmalade, but contains no insoluble matter (nothing that won't dissolve), except possibly for small quantities of finely sliced peel.

The Regulations forbid the use of the following fruit in the manufacture of extra jam and extra jelly:

  • apples
  • pears
  • clingstone plums
  • melons
  • watermelons
  • grapes
  • pumpkins
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes

All these products must have a soluble solids (solids that can be dissolved in the product) content of the finished product of not less than 60%, as determined by a refractometer at 20°C (a refractometer is a piece of equipment on to which a small quantity of jam is smeared so the sugar content can be measured).

Additional ingredients

If you want to describe your product using any of the reserved descriptions above then you can only use the additional ingredients in the list below. You can still manufacture products using ingredients that are not on the list but you would not be able to describe them as jam, marmalade etc; you would instead need to use descriptions such as 'preserve' or 'conserve' instead. 

The permitted additional ingredients are:

  • honey - in all products, as a total or partial substitute for sugars
  • fruit juice - only in jam
  • citrus fruit juice - in products obtained from other types of fruit: only in jam, extra jam, jelly and extra jelly
  • red fruit juices - only in jam and extra jam manufactured from rosehips, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, plums and rhubarb
  • red beetroot juice - only in jam and jelly manufactured from strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and plums
  • essential oils of citrus fruits - only in marmalade and jelly marmalade
  • edible oils and fats as anti-foaming agents - in all products
  • liquid pectin - in all products
  • citrus peel - in jam, extra jam, jelly and extra jelly
  • leaves of Pelargonium odoratissimum (apple geranium / apple pelargonium) - in jam, extra jam, jelly and extra jelly, where they are made from quinces
  • spirits, wine and liqueur wine, nuts, aromatic herbs, spices, vanilla and vanilla extracts - in all products
  • vanilline - in all products 
  • permitted food additives 

A list of permitted food additives can be found on the Food Standards Agency website. 

Permitted treatments

If you want to describe your product using any of the reserved descriptions above then you can only use certain treatments on your product.  

Fruit pulp, fruit puree and aqueous extract of fruit (water in which all the soluble elements of the fruit have been dissolved) may only be treated in the following ways:

  • heated, chilled or frozen
  • freeze-dried
  • concentrated, to the extent that is technically possible

Sulphites (sulphur dioxide - E220) or its salts (E221, E222, E223, E224, E226 and E227) may be used as an aid to manufacture, provided that the maximum sulphur dioxide content is not exceeded (10 mg/kg in relation to jams, jellies and marmalades made with sulphited fruits). This does not apply to extra jam or extra jelly. 

Apricots and plums for jam can be subjected to other drying processes but cannot be freeze-dried.

Citrus peel can be preserved in brine.

In the same way as for additional ingredients above, you can apply other treatments than those listed to your products, but if you do so you cannot describe it using a reserved description.    

Additional reserved descriptions

X curd:

A curd is an emulsion (a mix of two liquids that do not dissolve) of edible fat and/or oil, sugar, whole egg and/or egg yolk, and any combination of fruit, fruit pulp, fruit purée, fruit juice, aqueous extract of fruit or essential oils of fruit, with or without other edible ingredients. In the description, X is the name of the fruit (or fruits) used to make the curd.  

  • the quantity of fat and oil used for every kilogram of the finished product must be not less than 40g
  • the quantity of whole and egg yolk used for every kilogram of finished product must be not less than 6.5g of egg yolk solids
  • the quantity of fruit, fruit pulp, fruit puree, fruit juice, aqueous extract of fruit and essential oil of fruit must be sufficient to characterise the finished product

Y flavour curd:

A flavour curd is the same as a curd but the fruit has been replaced with fruit flavouring. In the description, Y is the name of the flavouring.

  • the quantity of fat and oil used for every kilogram of the finished product must be not less than 40g
  • the quantity of whole and egg yolk used for every kilogram of finished product must be not less than 6.5g of egg yolk solids
  • the quantity of flavouring material used must be sufficient to characterise the product

Mincemeat:

Mincemeat is a mixture of sweetening agents, vine fruits, citrus peel, suet or equivalent fat and vinegar or acetic acid, with or without other edible ingredients.  

  • the quantity of vine fruits and citrus peel used for every kilogram of finished product must not be less than 300g, of which not less than 200g consists of vine fruits
  • the quantity of suet or equivalent fat used for every kilogram of the finished product is not less than 25g

Curds and mincemeats are required to have a soluble solids content of 65% or more, as determined by a refractometer at 20°C.

Sweetened chestnut puree:

  • the quantity of chestnut used per kilogram of finished product must not be less than 380g
  • the soluble solids content must not be less than 60% as determined by a refractometer at 20°C

Reduced sugar

Where sugar has been partially or completely replaced by permitted sweeteners the description 'reduced sugar' may be used.  

In order to comply with other food legislation the amount of sugar must have been reduced by at least 30%.    

Products described as 'reduced sugar' must have a soluble solids content of not less than 25% and not more than 50%.

Labelling

NAME

If your product has been manufactured to meet the compositional requirements of a reserved description then you must use the reserved description in the name of the food.  

The name of the fruit(s) used in jam, marmalade, etc must be included in the product name ('Strawberry Jam', 'Seville Orange Marmalade', etc).  

If the product is made from more than one fruit, each type must be given in the name, they must appear in descending order by weight of fruit (flesh, pulp, juice, etc combined) used in the product.

If a product is made from three or more types of fruit you can instead describe it as 'Mixed Fruit Jam', 'Three Fruit Marmalade' etc. 

In the case of curd, X should be replaced with the name of the fruit(s), or the words 'Mixed Fruit', or the number of fruits used in its manufacture (for example 'Three Fruit Curd').  

In the case of flavour curd, Y should be replaced with the name of the fruit flavour or the words 'Mixed Fruit'.

FRUIT & SUGAR CONTENT

This is not required for curds, flavour curds or mincemeat.

The label for jams and similar products must include the two following statements:

  • 'prepared with Xg fruit per 100g', where X is the amount of fruit used in 100g of finished product
  • 'total sugar content: Yg per 100g', where Y is the amount of sugar in 100g of finished product determined by a refractometer at 20°C

Where the product is made from two or more types of fruit you should specify the amounts of all of the fruits- for example, 'Raspberry and Apple Jam made with 45g of raspberry and 35g of apple per 100g of finished product'. If you are describing the product as 'Mixed Fruit', 'Three Fruit', etc you do not need to break it down in this way.  

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR PREPACKED FOOD

These labelling requirements are in addition to the mandatory food labelling requirements of EU Regulation No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. Mandatory requirements for the labelling of prepacked food are:

  • the name of the food
  • a list of ingredients
  • the quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients (QUID)
  • indication of specified allergenic ingredients
  • 'use by' date or an indication of minimum durability (in the form 'best before' or 'best before end') and a lot or batch number (unless the date is sufficient to specify this)
  • any special storage conditions or conditions for use
  • name and address of the responsible food business operator
  • net quantity
  • place of origin, if not stating it could mislead
  • any instructions that are necessary to use the food
  • a nutrition information declaration consisting of the energy value and the amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt

Use of the term 'organic'

For any product being made from organic ingredients and intended to be marketed as an organic product, the name of the food should still be 'X Jam made from organically produced X'. An appropriate organic certification mark must be included on the label. Registration with an appropriate United Kingdom certification body is also required.

Please see 'Labelling & describing organic food', which explains the extra legal controls that apply.

Use of prescribed names for other products

The use of the terms 'jam' and 'jelly' are permitted where in use as a customary name - for example, 'jelly babies', 'mint jelly', 'table jelly' - and where this will not mislead the consumer.

The terms 'conserve', 'preserve', and 'fruit spread' are not reserved descriptions and products with these names would not be required to meet specific compositional standards so products described in this manner could use additional ingredients not on the list, contain different proportions of fruit, and so on.

Penalties

Failure to comply may result in an improvement notice being issued, requiring compliance to be achieved. If the improvement notice is not complied with it is an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.

If allergen information does not comply with the requirements it is an offence under the Food Information Regulations 2014. The maximum penalty is a fine.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: May 2018

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.