HC Deb 06 December 1937 vol 330 cc21-2
30. Mr. Craven-Ellis

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that owing to the outbreak of typhoid the demand for oysters has fallen away and the oyster industry is thereby prejudiced; whether he will take steps to inform the public that it is possible to obtain certified oysters which, having been cleansed by a process approved by his Department and the Ministry of Health, can be eaten without danger; and whether he will take steps, in the interests of the shell fisheries as well as the public health, to make the cleansing of all oysters, mussels, and other edible molluscs which are sold for human consumption compulsory?

Mr. Ramsbotham

With reference to the first part of the question, my right hon. Friend has been informed that there has recently been a reduction in the demand for oysters, and that this has been attributed to nervousness on the part of the consuming public induced by the present outbreak of typhoid, but while he cannot properly express an opinion as to the cause of this outbreak pending the result of the public inquiry which is being made, he understands that there is no evidence to suggest that it is in any way connected with the consumption of oysters or other shell-fish. As to the second part of the question, my right hon. Friend's Department directs attention, as opportunity offers, by means of reports, leaflets, lectures by officers of the Department and otherwise, to the existence of supplies of purified oysters and mussels and explains the methods of purification and the resulting advantages. As to the last part of the question, an immediate requirement that all molluscs intended for human consumption should be cleansed would not at present be practicable, but the subject is receiving the careful consideration of my right hon. Friend's Department and the Ministry of Health.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Is there not a cleansing tank in operation which has the approval of the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, and could not its use be enforced in every port where the oyster industry is established?

Mr. Ramsbotham

There are one or more types of cleansing tanks, but to set up cleansing tanks wherever they are required would be an extremely expensive and difficult operation. But, as I say, the matter is receiving the careful consideration of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Petherick

Is there any reasonable person who believes that English oysters can produce typhoid in Croydon when they do not do so in any other part of the country?