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The advice sheets below have the latest information on food standards. If you need more advice call 01753 475111 (Regulatory Services option).
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 and 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:
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 200 g of citrus fruit (from pulp, puree, rind, juice or any combination) per kilogram of the finished product; at least 75 g 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:
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:
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).
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 cannot then describe them as jam, marmalade, etc; instead you would need to use descriptions such as 'preserve' or 'conserve'.
The permitted additional ingredients are:
A list of permitted food additives can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.
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:
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 to your products than those listed, but if you do so you cannot then describe them using a reserved description.
Additional reserved descriptions
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.
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.
Mincemeat is a mixture of sweetening agents, vine fruits (raspberries, gooseberries, etc), citrus peel, suet or equivalent fat and vinegar or acetic acid, with or without other edible ingredients.
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:
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%.
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 type of fruit, each type must be given in the name, and 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 (see above) 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 (see above) should be replaced with the name of the fruit flavour or the words 'mixed fruit'.
FRUIT AND 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:
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 45 g of raspberry and 35 g of apple per 100 g 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:
For more information see 'Labelling of prepacked foods: general'.
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; therefore products described in this manner could use additional ingredients not on the list, contain different proportions of fruit, and so on.
Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement & penalties'.
Last reviewed / updated: July 2020
In this update
No major changes
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 legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.