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Friday, November 13, 1998 Published at 13:57 GMT


Anyone for Christmas pudding topping?

Brandy butter, a traditional accompaniment to Christmas puddings, could fall foul of European Union legislation that says it does not qualify as a real butter.

Brandy butter producer Andrew Gordon: "Why should we change the name?"
The UK brandy butter industry, which encompasses just 12 producers and has a relatively small 2m-a-year turnover, will have to rename its product if it loses an imminent ruling.

Under EU law, all butters must contain at least 34% milkfat. Most brandy butters contain a considerably lower percentage.

But British producers say they are being victimised by a ruling aimed a spreadable fats like margarine and that brandy butter is really a sugar-based product.

'Buttercream with alcohol'

They point to the fact that the legislation is intended to clarify brand names for the consumer.

The industry says if it loses its appeal and has to change the name of brandy butter - which is more than 100 years old - it will simply lead to confusion.

Possible alternative names include "buttercream with alcohol" and "Christmas pudding topping".

Producers have rejected increasing the amount of milkfat to make brandy butter an EU-approved butter, because it would make it unbearably rich.

Peanut butter

It is also an "ambient" product, meaning it is stored without refrigeration.

If the level of milkfat was increased, brandy butter would have to be chilled - a prohibitively expensive conversion for such a small industry.

Products like peanut butter have already secured exemption from the EU ruling, but the brandy butter companies fear they may not be similarly successful because they lack the economic weight of the peanut lobbies.

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