Proposed plans to cut the sugar levels in jam, manufactured in the UK, has sparked a wave of criticism from members of the public. This in turn has led to Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt stating that the reduction could mean “the end of the British breakfast as we know it”.
The plans are to relax regulations which govern the minimum level of sugar which a product calling itself jam or marmalade can contain. Therefore you could cut sugar levels from 60% to 50%, which is more in line with French and German jams, but Ms Munt believes that it is the extra percentage of sugar that gives British jam its superiority.
Ms Munt, the MP for Wells in Somerset, will bring up the subject of the EU regulations in the House of Commons’ secondary debating chamber of Westminster Hall today, where it is expected that she will oppose the proposed plans.
She spoke to the BBC: “Our jams and marmalades are so important – and we know what to expect when we go into the supermarket or into our local shop or farm shops locally, we know exactly what we’re going to buy when something says jam on it – or marmalade or jelly – we know exactly what to expect.”
She added: “At the minute, we’ve got a jam that we know exactly what it’s like. It’s a fantastic colour, a really good shelf life – it’s going to last a year – its beautiful consistency, it’s got a gloss to it.”
“If these regulations change, we’ll end up with something much more like the French and German product – and worse still the Americans – where they have things a bit like a fruit butter or a fruit spread. It’s dull colours that don’t taste the same and they certainly don’t last as long.”
Defra, the government department responsible for food regulations in England, responded to Ms Munt’s statement and said: “Reducing the minimum sugar content in jam from 60% to 50% 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.”
The proposed plans will only apply to England at first, but a spokesperson for Defra said that it was likely that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would follow suit.
Although the reduction of sugar seemed to have worried Ms Munt, there are some members of the public who appear to actually prefer the less sugary taste of French and German jams. And one brand name came up time and time again – Bon Maman, a French jam that is available in the UK was many people’s first choice of jam.
The EU rules will not prevent any manufacturer from making jam with high sugar contents, it will just relax the regulations in regard to making jam with less sugar content.