The Food Standards Agency and Re-Use of Jars

The Food Standards Agency’s recent declaration about not reusing packaging has caused quite a commotion.

“The legislation with regard to food contact materials will preclude the reuse of glass honey jars for any commercial food use, even following stringent cleaning. A commercial honey producer is legally obliged to ensure their jars are fully compliant with legislation, and have an overriding requirement under the Food Safety Act to ensure the food they provide is safe.

Any packaging used must be compliant with the European regulations (principally Article 3 of Regulation 1935/2004), which sets out the safety criteria for food packaging. Though it can be assumed that originally the jars met these criteria, as they were fit to sell at the retail level, once sold and their constituent food has been consumed, the required chain of documentation which shows they are compliant is broken. Thus it would be impossible to demonstrate to the relevant authorities that the reused jars were compliant, unless the jars were knowingly manufactured to be reused, and within a closed loop distribution system like milk bottles. However, only the courts can decide whether in particular circumstances an offence has been committed.”

However, more recently on the BBC 4 programme “You and Yours” a FSA’s spokesman said that whilst in principal this is true, it does require a degree of common sense. Few materials are safer than glass. Glass is inert, it does not leach chemicals as plastic containers may. The jar filler needs to be sure the jar is not chipped or damaged and is clean.

As all beekeepers know, honey does not allow bacteria to grow. Lids should not be reused for reasons of not only cleanliness but also the seal may deteriorate over time.

Above all, common sense should prevail!

We are not providing guidance or advice, the decision is wholly yours to reuse or to recycle in your nearest bottle bank.