ESSEX jam maker Wilkin & Sons has vowed to maintain its renowned quality, despite new rules.

British jam has traditionally needed to contain 60 per cent sugar to guarantee quality, consistency and shelf life.

This minimum is set to be cut to 50 per cent after directives from Europe and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A debate in the House of Commons raised fears this would mean cheaper products flooding the market and reduce the reputation and quality of British jam – such as that produced by Tiptree’s world famous Wilkin & Sons.

Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt warned the changes would allow “gloopy sludge” to be sold as jam.

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

“Reducing permitted sugar levels would in time destroy the characteristic quality of British jams, jellies and marmalades, and could mislead consumers.”

But Walter Scott, the Wilkin joint managing director, insisted: “We are happy with the status quo concerning jam regulations.

“The market for our fine jams, marmalades, curds and mincemeat extends to more than 60 countries who appreciate quality products made with integrity.”

MP Priti Patel, whose constituency includes Tiptree, spoke in the Commons debate.

She said: “The world’s greatest jams and marmalades are made in Tiptree.

“The Government should be working with producers with a great international reputation for exporting their jams throughout the world so we can increase our profile and market share internationally and outcompete Europe.”

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the change would allow British producers to trade more easily across the world, where sugar levels are traditionally lower.