Gloria back in kitchen but may still be in jam

By Peter de Graaf

The nation's best-known charity jam maker is back in the kitchen  - more than three months after her popular jams and pickles were banned from Kerikeri's Hospice Shop.
Gloria Crawford, of Waipapa, has been making jam for good causes since the 1980s and for the past five years for Hospice Mid North. But a complaint in August saw health authorities order the shop to pull her treats  because they were not made in a separate commercial kitchen.
The jam ban sparked an outcry in Kerikeri, made national television news, and had embarrassed  officials scrambling for a solution. Hospice said  it could   be out $15,000 a year in sales.
But last Friday, Mrs Crawford was finally issued with a Food Safety Authority certificate allowing her to make  the jam in her  kitchen. The first batch will  reach the  shop  tomorrow.
The only hurdle left is a visit next week from a health inspector, who will  watch the  jam-making process. Ironically, the new rules Mrs Crawford has to work by - a  pared-back version of the 90-page food-safety programme  commercial producers use - require no change to the way she makes jam.
What has changed is that  she cannot use the kitchen for anything else while  making jam and  must keep  records, including  noting her hours, cleaning and maintenance schedules, and keeping a record of each batch.
 She said she was relieved the fiasco was almost over: "It's been frustrating - I haven't had to deal with bureaucracy before. I felt like I was wasting time and had all that fruit sitting in the freezer waiting to be made into jam, and I couldn't do it."
However,  she said everyone she dealt with in the council, Food Safety and the health board had treated her with courtesy.

While Mrs Crawford and husband Ian were uncomfortable  in the limelight, they had been buoyed by a wave of public support. Even relatives in the UK had heard about the outcry.

She thought the ban sparked  outrage because it was an affront to freedom and the Kiwi way of helping others: "I think people were just enraged - what on Earth's wrong with making jam?"
But even if she passes next week's inspection, as expected, that may not be the end of  it. The certificate applies only to jam.  To  make her equally popular sauces and pickles, she will have to go through the  process again.
She may also have to get her jam analysed to meet nutrition labelling requirements - "if it comes to that I'll probably call it a day".
A loophole in the law allows people to make and sell home-made goodies up to twice a year without a certificate; Mrs Crawford  was averaging 40-50 jars a week. Her brand, Thornhill, takes its name from her husband's family farm in Ireland.

- Northern Advocate

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