For over 116 years, HP sauce has been the favoured British condiment.
But now, the age-old recipe has been secretly altered at the request of Government health chiefs.
Heinz, the American company which bought the famous British brand in 2005, has changed the celebrated concoction that includes tomatoes, malt vinegar, molasses, dates, tamarind and secret spices to reduce the salt content.
The previous version of the brown sauce, which has become synonymous with fry-up breakfasts and bacon sandwiches, used to contain 2.1g of salt per 100g. The new version contains just 1.3g.
But fans of the sauce say the small change has altered the whole taste, and they are not happy.
The most famous critic, Michelin-starred Marco Pierre White, said he sent back a meal of sausages and mash at Piers Morgan’s Kensington pub The Hansom Cab last week because he thought it was off. “At first, I thought it was the sausages, but it wasn’t,” he said. “It was the HP, which tasted disgusting. It was definitely dodgy. I had no idea they had changed the recipe.
“I was brought up on HP Sauce in Yorkshire. My old man used to say ketchup was for Southerners and HP was for Northerners. My father would turn in his grave if he discovered they changed the recipe.”
Heinz made the changes after signing up to the Coalition Government’s Responsibility Deal, which aims to reduce salt used by food manufacturers. The key pledges include an agreement to reducing salt in food so people eat 1g less per day by end of 2012.
Health experts claim this measure will save the NHS £46 million a year within three years and prevent more than 4,000 premature deaths a year.
But as a result of the decrease in salt in the old sauce, the new line has more calories and carbohydrates.
A Heinz spokesman said: ‘‘In line with changes in consumer tastes, Heinz has long been committed to reducing added salt in recipes in line with Government health targets.”