Jamie Oliver accused of cultural 'appropriation' by minister after he launches jerk rice

Steven Swinford
Dawn Butler, shadow equalities minister

Jamie Oliver has been accused of "cultural appropriation" by a Labour front-bencher and ally of Jeremy Corbyn after he launched a new range of "punchy jerk rice". 

The television chef was criticised for incorrectly using the label "jerk", which  originates in Jamaica and usually applies to a spicy marinade for meat such as pork and chicken.

Dawn Butler, the shadow equalities minister, said that Mr Oliver's use of the term was not "appropriate". She said that he should ask Levi Roots, the creator of jerk barbecue sauce Reggae Reggae, to teach him about it. 

She said on Twitter: "I'm just wondering do you know what Jamaican jerk actually is? It's not just a word you put before stuff to sell products. Levi Roots should do a masterclass. Your jerk rice is not OK. This appropriation of Jamaica needs to stop."

She subsequently highlighted a post by another Twitter user who said that Mr Oliver's jer.k rise is "concocted": "There's no such thing as jerk rice apart from what Jamie Oliver has concocted. That's her point. Anybody from any nationality can eat anything they want, there are just some dishes that are best left alone and enjoyed how they're supposed to be made."

Stephen Pollard, an author and commentator, criticised Ms Butler's intervention: "She's objecting to the name of a recipe. This woman is in the shadow cabinet." She responded: "You just don't understand. That's OK. I'm not on Twitter to be your teacher."

Mr Oliver's £2.30 microwaveable rice is vegetarian and includes garlic, ginger and jalapenos. It is sold in most supermarkets.

The row began when Marti Burgess, the associate director of law firm Gregg Latchams, tweeted a picture of the "jerk rice" in her local supermarket.

Ms Burgess wrote: "OMG - this has sent me over the edge - jerk is a marinade and a method of cooking meat @jamieoliver why have you done this? You just can’t have jerk rice."

She said that there is "no such thing as jerk rice" and that "she's not saying nobody from Jamaica shouldn't eat Jamaican food, she's pointing out the bastardisation of our national dish".