Theresa May 'scrapes the mould off jam'

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Jars of jam

As if Theresa May was not in enough of a jam over Brexit, she has now sparked a debate about how to handle actual jam - the kind that comes in jars.

It comes after she reportedly told cabinet ministers she scrapes the mould off the fruit preserve rather than throw it away.

The SNP's Pete Wishart picked up on the PM's comment on Twitter, saying it was "a bit like she runs the Tory Party".

The PM reportedly made the comments in a cabinet discussion on food waste.

The prime minister told colleagues that she scrapes the mould off and the rest is "perfectly edible", according to the Daily Mail.

She added that people should use "common sense" to work out if the whole jar should be thrown out.

Labour's shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said on Twitter "I don't reckon too many Tories will be scraping mould off food" in "Tory-fuelled austerity UK".

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Meanwhile, the Lib Dems say the jam reference is "very apt".

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Campaign group Wrap says 10m tonnes of food is binned in the UK every year.

Of this figure, which is largely made up of household food waste, it is thought about 60% could be avoided.

Mrs May is understood to have been discussing the issue with cabinet ministers on Tuesday.

Last year the government announced a £15m scheme to address food waste from the retail and manufacturing sectors and outlined further plans to reduce it in England in its Resources and Waste Strategy.

Asked whether the prime minister thought people should follow her example, her official spokesman said: "That is a matter for the individual."

A spokesman for Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who makes his own jam with fruit grown on his allotment, said: "Jeremy's love of both making and consuming jam is well known, and as such he personally never gets to the point of scraping or chucking mould."

Safe to eat?

The Food Standards Agency's advice is that some species of mould can produce toxins, and that food that is obviously rotten or containing mould should not be eaten. Children, elderly people and pregnant women, along with others who have a weakened immune system, should be especially careful, the FSA advises.

It adds that while removing the mould - along with significant amount of the surrounding product - may work, there is no guarantee it would remove all unseen toxins.

But Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that he would scrape the mould off, "depending on the quality of the jam".

"Generally speaking, I wouldn't be worried about the mould doing any harm," he said. "I would just question how long it has been in the cupboard, but it's safe to eat."

"Jam's got a lot of sugar in it, which stops nasty bugs getting in it. It's been made by boiling... so it's a pretty safe product."