Labelling of jam & similar products

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 (including marmalade) is controlled by legislation. Jams made using certain types of fruit have 'reserved descriptions' that can only be used in the labelling of the product if it has been manufactured to the criteria as set out in the Regulations, which also contain a list of permitted additional ingredients and treatments.

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

In the guide

Jam and marmalade

Jams made using certain types of fruit have 'reserved descriptions', which can only be used in the labelling of the product if it has been manufactured to the criteria as set out in the Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003.

These state that the product must contain the following amounts of fruit per kilogram of finished product:

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

Similarly, marmalade is required to contain not less than 200g of citrus fruit per kilogram of the finished product, and 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.

These quantities vary if the jam or marmalade is described as 'extra', 'jelly' or 'extra jelly':

Extra jam:

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

Jelly:

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

Extra jelly:

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

Jelly marmalade is the same as marmalade, but contains no insoluble matter, except possibly for small quantities of finely sliced peel.

Sweetened chestnut puree must consist of not less than 380g of pureed chestnuts per kilogram of finished product.

All these products must have a soluble solids content of the finished product of not less than 60%, as determined by a refractometer at 20°.

Additional ingredients

The above named products may not be classed as specified products under these Regulations if they contain any additional ingredients, other than permitted additional ingredients as set out in Schedule 2 to the Regulations.

Permitted 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 - 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 are defined in the Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents (England) Regulations 2013.

Permitted treatments

A product is not a specified jam or similar product if any raw material used in the preparation of that food has been subjected to any treatment, other than permitted treatments. Fruit pulp, fruit puree and aqueous extract of fruit may be treated in the following ways:

  • heated, chilled or frozen
  • freeze-dried
  • concentrated, to the extent that is technically possible
  • except in relation to extra jam or extra jelly, 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 

Apricots and plums to be used in the manufacture of jam may also be treated by other drying processes, apart from freeze-drying.

Citrus peel may, additionally, be preserved in brine.

Additional descriptions

'Reduced sugar jam' - this description must only be used for a food whose composition is the same as that of jam, except that its soluble solids content must not be less than 25% and not more than 50%.

X curd:

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

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

Mincemeat:

  • 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
  • quantity of suet or equivalent fat used for every 1,000g 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.

Labelling - general

Products manufactured to meet the compositional requirements of the Regulations must be labelled with the 'reserved description' in the name of the food. The name of the fruit(s) used in jams etc must be included in the product name ('strawberry jam' for example). For marmalade, the fruit type(s) must also be given.

If the product is made from more than one fruit, each type must be given.

Where a product is prepared from two types of fruit, an indication is required in the name of the foods of those types of fruits, in descending order of weight of the fruit pulp, fruit puree, fruit juice, fruit peel and aqueous extract of fruit used in the preparation of the product.

If a product is made from three or more types of fruit, an indication is required in the name of the food of those types of fruits, in descending order of weight of the fruit pulp, fruit puree, fruit juice, fruit peel and aqueous extract of fruit used in the preparation of the product or, alternatively, the words 'mixed fruit' or similar wording, or the number of types of fruit used in the preparation of the product.

However, for 'X curd', X may be substituted with the name of a particular type of fruit, or the words 'mixed fruit', or the word 'fruit', preceded by an indication of the number of types of fruit used in the preparation of the food.

For 'Y flavour curd', Y may be substituted with the name of a particular type of fruit or the words 'mixed fruit'.

Labelling - fruit and sugar content

The declarations below are not required for curds, flavour curds or mincemeat.

The label for jams and similar products, other than those prepacked for direct sale, 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 determined by a refractometer at 20º C

A refractometer is a small piece of equipment onto which a small quantity of jam is smeared so the sugar content can be measured.

Where any specified jam or similar product has a residual sulphur dioxide content of more than 10mg/kg, that residual content must be identified in the list of ingredients according to the percentage by weight of the residue in the product as 'sulphur dioxide'.

These labelling requirements are in addition to the general food labelling provisions of EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, which require:

  • name of the food
  • list of ingredients, including the quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients (see below)
  • 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 its omission could mislead
  • any instructions that are necessary to use the food
  • nutrition information (see below). This is optional until 13 December 2016

EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 requires ingredients that characterise a food to be quantitatively declared in the ingredients list. For jams made from a single fruit, the 'prepared from Xg fruit per 100g' statement will suffice. However, where jams contain two or more different types of fruit in unequal proportions, it is necessary to declare the percentage fruit content of each type of fruit separately in the ingredients list. This does not apply if the fruits are in equal proportions or where the name of the food is 'mixed fruit jam'.

Until 13 December 2016 nutrition labelling is optional unless a claim is made - such as 'this jam is high in energy' - but if provided must follow one of the formats in EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. The values can be calculated using analysis or using tables.

Quantity declaration

All of the types of products referred to in this guide must show an indication of quantity. This must be stated in metric quantities and must be clearly legible and not interrupted by any other written or pictorial matter. Individual portions of 25g or less are exempt from compulsory weight declarations.

Please see 'Packaged goods - average quantity' for more information.

Size of fonts must be:

Mass or weight Minimum height of figures
0 - 50g 2mm
>50 - 200g 3mm
>200g - 1kg 4mm
>1kg 6mm

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 (such as UK2) must also be included on the label. Registration with an appropriate United Kingdom certification body is also required. Please see also '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.

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 on conviction is an unlimited fine and/or 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 on conviction is a fine of £5,000.

Further reading

Full guidance can be found on the Food Standards Agency website. (Since this guidance was published, Defra has taken over responsibility for food labelling in England. It has not yet published revised guidance so the FSA guidance still stands. See Jams and marmalade on the GOV.UK website.)

Key legislation

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. Please contact us for further information.

Last reviewed/updated: January 2015