‘The end of the British breakfast as we know it’ -- Horrors!

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British food regulators’ proposal to lower the minimum sugar content for what can be labeled as jam has stirred up a hyperbolic debate in Parliament that pits hidebound culinary traditionalists against those seeking to boost trade.

The proposed change would allow jam makers to market their wares with as little as 50% sugar content, instead of the current mandatory 60% minimum. But the law would still leave it up to the cooks to decide whether they wanted to change their recipe or stick with the old ways.

The revised content standard, intended to make British fruit spread labeling more in line with what is marketed as jam elsewhere in Europe, has unexpectedly kicked up opposition and apocalyptic warnings about messing with the predictable and the familiar.


“I’m actually quite worried because I think this is going to be the end of the British breakfast as we know it,” Liberal Democratic lawmaker Tessa Munt told the BBC ahead of her appearance Wednesday before the House of Commons to fight the regulation change.

That might not be such a bad thing, in the mind of anyone who has endured the monotonous cooked English breakfast of egg, bacon, sausage, baked beans, two halved slices of white bread (with butter and preserves) and a flavorless grilled tomato.

“Since when did jam and marmalade become the Great British Breakfast?” the International Business Times wondered in a brief poke at the parliamentary tempest.

“Jam Wars: Will reducing sugar destroy British jams?” the Guardian asked in an exhaustive report on the pros and cons of cutting sugar and feared compromises on the spread’s color and shelf life.

The newspaper quoted another Liberal Democratic lawmaker, Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable, as saying Britain’s outdated content and labeling requirements were preventing the British products from occupying their due space on foreign store shelves.

“This is exactly the sort of ridiculous red tape we want to do away with,” Cable told his parliamentary colleagues, disparaging the detailed regulations for what can be called jam, conserves or fruit spread.


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Twitter: @cjwilliamslat