Business secretary Vince Cable has pledged to “sort out” EU legislation that has left a British jam-maker in “red tape limbo” over the sugar content of her jam.
Clippy McKenna, founder of Clippy’s apples, has been embroiled in a row with Defra for 18 months over EU legislation that has left her unable to call her jam ‘jam’ because it contains less sugar than required by UK law.
However, her cause has been taken up by Cable following a meeting organised by the ITV News Business Club. McKenna petitioned the minister over the stringent regulations, arguing that the UK government is gold-plating EU legislation that has left her bound by red tape and unable to use any of the required ‘reserve descriptions’.
The current rules set the minimum level of sugar in jam at 60%, or between 25% and 50% for reduced-sugar jams. Clippy’s apple-based products fall between these two ranges and contain 53% sugar, which McKenna is adamant can’t be changed without reducing the product’s fruit content or affecting its shelf life.
Cable agreed that the situation was ridiculous. He confirmed the government was trying to ensure the “sillier” Brussels red tape was removed, and wanted to do all it could to encourage entrepreneurs. “I will try to make sure this is collared up and sorted out,” he added.
Defra was due to consult on the regulations at the end of 2012, as EU rules allow member states flexibility to set lower sugar limits for jams, but it was postponed by internal delays. It will now happen in the first quarter of this year.
McKenna’s business partner, Paul Gorman, said the issue had cost the company thousands of pounds. “It’s a perfect example of David versus Goliath,” he said. “We shouldn’t be penalised for being innovative.”