Jamie Oliver is accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ by Labour MP

Jamie Oliver is accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ for launching jerk rice: Labour MP joins social media outrage and tells chef its ‘not just a word you put before stuff to sell products’

  • Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central in London, slammed the TV chef on Twitter
  • Shadow minister suggested Jamie Oliver ask Levi Roots for a masterclass on jerk
  • Mr Oliver is selling ‘punchy jerk rice’ for £2.30 – but jerk rice does not exist

The shadow women and equalities minister has slammed TV chef Jamie Oliver for cultural appropriation over his ‘punchy jerk rice’.

Dawn Butler, the MP for Brent Central in north west London, suggested the father-of-five ask Levi Roots, the creator of jerk barbeque sauce Reggae Reggae sauce, to teach him about it.

Ms Butler tweeted: ‘#jamieoliver @jamieoliver #jerk 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. @levirootsmusic should do a masterclass. Your jerk Rice is not ok. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.’

Jamie Oliver has been accused of cultural appropriation over his £2.30 ‘punchy jerk rice’ (pictured) 

Social media users have called the celebrity chef out for incorrectly using the label ‘jerk’ on his product

Labour MP Dawn Butler suggested the father-of-five ask Levi Roots, the creator of jerk barbeque sauce Reggae Reggae sauce, to teach him about it 


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Jerk can refer to a type of cooking which involves marinating meat in a jerk spice mixture, or the marinade itself. It originated in Jamaica.

Mr Oliver’s £2.30 microwaveable rice offering is vegetarian, but the packaging suggests it is ‘seriously good’ with chicken wings. 

The row over the rice began a few days ago when Bristolian Marti Burgess, the associate director of law firm Gregg Latchams, tweeted a snap of the product 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.’

Ms Brent, the shadow women and equalities minister, said jerk is ‘not just a word you put before stuff to sell products’

Regina Holland pointed out 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’

Since then several Twitter users, including Ms Butler, have called Mr Oliver out for incorrectly using the label ‘jerk’.

Regina Holland said: ‘Just because Dawn Butler’s an MP it doesn’t mean she can’t have an opinion on anything else. To say otherwise is ridiculous and single minded at best. 

‘She’s not saying nobody from Jamaica shouldn’t eat Jamaican food, she’s pointing out the bastardisation of our national dish. 

‘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.’ 

Michelle Bryan added: ‘Spot on Dawn – as the daughter of a proud Jamaican, I know that my dad hated this type of thing – so fake.’ 

But not everyone has agreed with Ms Brent – with many pointing out that British people eat food from many different cultures

One individual said: ‘Appropriation has quite a specific meaning, and refers to profiting from another’s culture when they themselves are often restricted from doing so. 

‘It’s an extension of the the power that comes from colonisation. Nothing to do with sharing cultures.’

But not everyone has agreed with Ms Brent, with many pointing out that British people eat food from many different cultures.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Now while I do think Jamie needs taking down a peg or three you’re all getting very silly over this appropriation stuff. If no one cooked/ate food from other cultures in the world what a boring life we’d lead.’

Benjamin Tucker said: ‘Are you honestly saying that white people can’t cook food from other cultures in case they get it slightly wrong?’ 

Jamie Oliver and Dawn Butler have been contacted for comment. 

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