In a Bit of a Jam

Are you in or headed towards the Czech Republic, but still looking forward to your marmalade at breakfast time? Sorry, that’s probably not possible:

iDnes: Marmeláda se nevrátí, Unie odsoudila Česko k rosolu a džemu: Marmeláda se do regálů českých obchodů hned …



But don’t despair: it depends on what you call “marmalade,” as we learn from a recent article from Mladá fronta dnes. The European Commission is quite strict about what it allows to be called marmalade. That is one of the EU’s protected food designations – like “champagne” or “Parma ham” – so the Commission has demanding requirements: “marmalade” must at all times be made only of citrus fruits, and must have at a minimum 20% of actual fruit content.

A certain Czech foods company called Hamé realized it was about to get into trouble (e.g. incur fines) for calling some of its fruity breakfast-spread concoctions “marmalade” and so filed an appeal to be allowed an exception. That was rejected; the choices for the label are to be only “jam” (džem) or jelly (rosol). But it might still be what you yourself regard as “marmalade”; you’ll have to examine the label – yes, it will be in Czech, so instead just take the plunge and purchase a likely-looking jar and go home and see!

So now the Czech public can savor – if they haven’t had the chance before – the sort of laughable instance of EU interference in their everyday lives that people in older member-states have been complaining about for years. The thing is, that’s precisely the wrong audience, given the pronounced anti-EU attitudes already prevailing among many leading Czech politicians, notoriously headed by President Václav Klaus himself.

Finally, I mentioned that the Commission was “quite strict” about its protected designations, but that’s not quite true, even in the case of “marmalade”: in Denmark, Greece and Austria you can find products with that designation which do not meet the citrus fruit/20% content requirement. But that’s because the respective governments were careful to get their marmalade exemptions as their countries were becoming member-states, i.e. back when they had a little more leverage. The Czech authorities didn’t think of that back in 2004 when the Czech Republic entered the EU – they were busy defending designations a bit closer to home, like slivovice, a potent fruit-based alcohol.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Comments are closed.