End of the Great British Breakfast as we know it? New sugar rules mean marmalade 'would be gloopy sludge'

 

Plans to change the rules governing jam and marmalade production in England could lead to "the end of the British breakfast as we know it" and leave consumers eating French-style spreads which "taste like mud," an MP has warned.

Ministers intend to relax regulations governing the minimum level of sugar which a product calling itself jam or marmalade can contain. The government says the change will help British farmers market their products abroad.

But Tessa Munt, a Liberal Democrat, criticised the regulations from Brussels, which means manufacturers will be able to call their fruit spreads jam even if they are only 50 per cent sugar.

Ms Munt, who is parliamentary private secretary to Business Secretary Vince Cable, said this will mean they will be able to sell a "gloopy sludge" that resembles nothing like the traditional British staple.

She told MPs in a Westminster Hall debate that rules dating back to research in the 1920s meant that jam had to be at least 60 per cent sugar to retain its gel-like quality.

Consumers would be left confused if producers were able to sell products labelled as jam when they were only 50 per cent sugar as their consistency would be similar to inferior European fruit spreads that often "tasted like mud", MPs heard.

Ms Munt said: "I am concerned that this debate will herald what will turn out to be the end of the traditional British breakfast as we know it.

"We all know what we expect when we go to the supermarket - something that is of beautiful quality, beautiful colour and it has a shelf life of about a year.

"By reducing the percentage of total sugar, the characteristic gel-like consistency of jams and marmalade will be lost. The result will be an homogenised spreadable sludge that does not bear any resemblance to what we know in England and what we enjoy as British jam.

"With a 60 per cent sugar content, the colours of sweet preserves are bright and characteristic of the fruit used to make the product. The fruit is fantastic.

"A lower percentage produces products with darker, muddier colours which may affect consumer confidence in the British product.

"In addition, if the consistency lacks the characteristic gel and is instead more like a fruit spread or a fruit butter, consumer confidence in the properties of jam and similar products may be lost."

The regulations have been approved by the EU and are now making their way through a series of committees. George Eustice, the Environment minister, said the Government intended to support the proposal because manufacturers would still be able to make jam with 60 per cent sugar.

Mr Eustice said: "The reduction in the minimum sugar levels to 50 per cent delivers the greatest flexibility to the industry as a whole in a way that I do not think will be detrimental to those who are in compliance with the regulations."

Defra, the government department responsible for food regulations in England, held a consultation earlier this year.

A number of manufacturers said they would be in favour of lowering the minimum sugar requirement, officials reported.

A Defra spokesman said: "Reducing the minimum sugar content in jam from 60 per cent to 50 per cent will help British producers - large and small - to trade more easily across the world, boosting our economy and allowing jam-lovers everywhere to enjoy delicious British jam."

Laura Mason, a British food historian, said that spreads with lower sugar content tend to have less of a gel texture than the jams traditionally favoured by British palates. But she said that Munt was "overdoing it" since low-sugar fruit spreads have been available on British supermarket shelves for years.

Ms Mason, who makes her own jams out of strawberry, raspberry, and blackcurrant, added that France's answer to English jams - confiture - is "very nice."

The new regulations will apply to England only but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are likely to follow suit.

Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative MP, said the Government should consider introducing a kite mark for all jams with 60 per cent sugar content. Another Conservative, Priti Patel, said the Government should be helping British producers to export their jam around the world.

Asked whether the Prime Minister backed the jam changes, a Downing Street spokesman said: “This is the preserve of Defra”.

 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen