HC Deb 10 December 1931 vol 260 cc2039-41

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that under the existing Regulations governing the importation of foreign liquid milk such milk may contain bacillus coli; and whether, in the interest of public health, ha will take the necessary steps to have the Regulations amended?


The public Health (Imported Milk) Regulations do not impose any conditions as to bacillus coli in imported milk, but the Regulations require that imported milk shall conform to a strict bacteriological standard of purity which is not required in the case of milk produced in this country, other than graded milks. I do not think that it is necessary to amend the Regulations as suggested.


Is the Minister aware that, since these coli bacilli can only come from the intestines of foreign cows, they are luxuries which we can ill afford to import at the present time?

37. Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX

asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to an article in the official Russian newspaper Pravda of the lath July regarding the unhygienic conditions of milk production in the large Soviet farm Molochnoye; and whether, in view of the outbreak of disease at Yeovil last week which the doctors attributed to contaminated butter, will consider the prohibition of the import of butter from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?

38. Mr. DONNER

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Moscow state inspection department (Gosinspekstia) has officially admitted that increasing quantities of Russian export butter are insanitary and damaging to health; and, in view of this, what steps he is prepared to take to prevent the importation into this country of Russian butter?


My attention has been called to reports of the statements in question. I am not aware of any outbreak of illness at Yeovil attributed to the consumption of butter. I have reseived information of several cases of illness in a neighbouring district, in connection with which a number of samples of butter were examined, but these were all found to be free from microbic contamination. Russian butter, with other foods, is subject to examination at the ports, and there is no evidence at present before me on which I should be justified in taking any steps to prohibit its importation.


Is there not evidence in this official newspaper that this butter is produced under the most unhygienic conditions in Russia; and why should we impose rules and regulations on our own farmers if we are not prepared to apply them to foreign butter?


I believe that that question was answered recently.


Has the Minister studied the official report which indicates the filthy conditions under which some of these cattle are kept; and will he take steps to see that this butter is not imported?

40. Duchess of ATHOLL

asked the Minister of Health whether he is prepared to lay down a standard of hygienic quality to which condensed and dried milk imported into this country must conform?


On the information before me I do not think it is necessary to lay down such a standard.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

Is it not possible to have some system by which our consuls will be able to give some kind of report on the conditions under which these articles are prepared, as that is the only way in which their purity can be ensured?


The House will understand, in connection with this and similar matters, that the law provides the Minister of Health with power to investigate the condition of such foodstuffs on arrival, and that power is exercised in such a manner as to check the product.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

Does not my right hon. Friend recognise that that does not give security?

53. Duchess of ATHOLL

asked the Minister of Health if, seeing that machine-skimmed imported milk is not required to contain any standard quantity of butter fat, as in the case of home-produced milk, he will consider imposing on imported skimmed milk the same conditions as are imposed on the home product?


The Noble Lady's question may he based on a misapprehension. There is no prescribed standard of butter fat for skimmed milk whether home produced or imported. This article purports to be as nearly as possible free from butter fat, and it would accordingly be impracticable to impose such a standard.