§ 26. Mr. HURD
asked the Minister of Agriculture what proportion of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in England and Wales this year have originated among pigs; whether there is evidence to show that one source of infection lies in the offal from imported meat carcases that is fed to pigs; and, if so what measures he proposes to take?
Out of 91 outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease confirmed this year, in 29 cases the disease originated in pigs, but 25 of these were traced to infection from other outbreaks. Of the remaining four cases, in only two was there any evidence that infection may have been contracted by the pigs corning into contact with butchers' waste containing meat scraps, which may have been of foreign or English origin, but there was no proof that this was the source of infection. The Foot and Mouth Disease (Boiling of Animal Foodstuffs) Order, as amended in February last, not only makes it an offence to bring any meat, bones, offal, etc., into contact with animals, or to feed them to animals, until the materials have been boiled, but also makes it an offence to permit animals 614 to be brought into contact with the materials, until the latter have been boiled.
The theoretical possibility of the introduction of infection of foot-and-mouth disease in chilled carcases has already been demonstrated by the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Committee. The Boiling of Animal Foodstuffs Order of 1927 is designed to prevent any infection which may in fact be introduced in this way from reaching animals in this country. I am not prepared to give instructions for the systematic testing of carcases, for which disease-proof premises and additional staff would be required, involving considerable expenditure, in order to test the existence of a contingency which has been admitted and which has already been provided against.
I think consumers would be very much inconvenienced by any interference with the supply of 8,000,000 quarters of beef and 3,700,000 carcases of sheep now coming in from the Argentine.
§ 28. Mr. HURD
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is satisfied that the orders at present in force to check the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease, such as those requiring the burning of imported straw packing and meat wrappings, are an effective safeguard; and how many prosecutions have been instituted under these orders and with what result?
The orders requiring the destruction of hay and straw used as packing for imported goods and the sterilisation of meat wrappings before being brought into contact with animals are calculated to be an effective safeguard against the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease by any such materials 615 which may be contaminated by the virus. The enforcement of these orders is a duty of the local authorities. I have no exact information as to the number of prosecutions which have been instituted under these orders by the local authorities, but 19 prosecutions have been notified to my Department, resulting in 13 convictions.