Jam debate: The end of the British breakfast?

Date:31-10-2013 08:58:19 read:4

Jam debate: The end of the British breakfast?

Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt says a debate over the amount of sugar in jam could herald "the end of the British breakfast as we know it"

Tessa Munt said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) should not adopt new rules which will allow jam producers to call their fruit spreads jam even if they are only 50% sugar.

Ms Munt, who is parliamentary private secretary to 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% sugar to retain its gel-like quality.

Defra Minister George Eustice said "one impetus" for the change was an European Union "jam directive". He said it permitted, but did not require, a sugar level lower than 60% to be set.

But Ms Munt said consumers would be left confused if producers were able to sell products labelled as jam when they were only 50% sugar as their consistency would be similar to inferior European fruit spreads that often "tasted like mud".

She said: "I am concerned that this debate may herald the end of the British breakfast as we know it.

"Reducing permitted sugar levels from 60% to 50% would in time destroy the characteristic quality of British jams, jellies and marmalades, and could mislead consumers. We all know what we expect when we go to the supermarket: something of beautiful quality with beautiful colour, with a shelf life of about a year.

"If the total sugar percentage is reduced, the characteristic gel in the consistency of jams, jellies and marmalades will be lost, and the result will be a homogenised, spreadable sludge, bearing no resemblance to the product we know and enjoy in England as British jam.

But Mr Eustice said the Government was not dictating a maximum sugar content level and therefore the changes would not affect producers who wanted to continue making sweet jam.

He said: "If there were a maximum requirement requiring all jams to have 50% sugar we would be having a totally different discussion. We are discussing minimum requirements and giving the industry flexibility.

"Those who want to develop products with a lower sugar level that they can market in Europe will be able to do so."

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013