HC Deb 01 March 1881 vol 258 cc1941-2

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether he has been informed of the prevalence of trichinosis amongst swine at Chicago, and is aware that large quantities of pork, ham, bacon, &c, are exported from that city to this Country; whether he is further aware that the French and other Governments have, in consequence, prohibited the importation of pork from the United States; and, whether, in view of the deadly character of the disease propagated by the consumption of diseased meat, two deaths having been reported from Dublin within the last few days, he has taken any, and, if so, what steps, to ascertain if any infected meat has been imported into the United Kingdom; and, if not, what steps he is prepared to take to prevent such importation?


Sir, we have no evidence of the prevalence of trichinosis among swine at Chicago. Chicago is merely a centre to which hogs are sent from hundreds of miles around to the curing-houses which exist there, and the cured pork is exported thence to this and other countries; but it must be remembered that the disease cannot be detected in the living animal, and generally only by a microscopic examination of the flesh. We are aware that the French have prohibited the importation of American pork. Their import, we are informed, has been comparatively small—not more than 1–12th of the import to this country. Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal prohibited American pork about two years ago, when some alarm prevailed as to trichinosis disease; but it should be noticed that these are self-sustaining countries, and not dependent, as we are, upon external supplies of animal food. With respect to disease as it affects the population in England and Wales, the Local Government Board is alone responsible. The Irish Government is responsible for public health in Ireland. The functions of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council are confined entirely to the diseases of living animals. I think it is only right to say that no facts have been brought to our notice to justify any alarm. I can only repeat what I stated last week, that the prohibition of such an enormous food supply could only be justified by the most urgent necessity. As regards the two cases referred to in Dublin, there is no evidence to show that death resulted from trichinosis, or that the deceased had been in the habit of consuming American pork.