Published October 30, 2013
LONDON – A British politician is in a jam over new rules on fruity spreads, saying her country's plan to lower the minimum sugar content of the breakfast staple threatens to turn a much-loved treat into "gloopy sludge."
Traditional British rules say a product should be at least 60 percent sugar before it can be called jam. However England is lowering the minimum to 50 percent so that U.K. farmers can better market their fruit spreads abroad.
That worries lawmaker Tessa Munt, who told the BBC Wednesday that loosening the standards threatened the very institution of the British breakfast -- a hearty meal typically served with sausage, egg, beans, tomato, and toast.
"I think this is going to be the end of the British breakfast as we know it," she told the broadcaster. "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 colors that don't taste the same and they certainly don't last as long."
British food historian Laura Mason acknowledged that spreads with lower sugar content tends to have less of a gel texture than the jams traditionally favored by Brits, but said that Munt was "overdoing it."
Low-sugar fruit spreads have been available on British supermarket shelves for years, she said. She wouldn't be drawn on Munt's criticism of American fruit spreads, but she said that France's answer to English jams -- confiture -- is "very nice."
Mason -- who makes her own jams out of strawberry, raspberry, and blackcurrant-- said she couldn't see what the fuss was about.
"It's a storm on the tea table," she said.