HC Deb 14 December 1959 vol 615 cc1032-3
34. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Health whether he has noted the decline in the total consumption of cod-liver oil; to what extent this is due to the recommendation of the Joint Sub-Committee that the vitamin content be lowered and only drop doses given; and what steps he is taking to ensure that as many children as possible receive this welfare food.

Miss Pitt

Yes, but it is not possible to say precisely how much of the decline is due to the reduced doses recommended. It is our constant endeavour to secure, by persuasion and appropriate publicity, that children who need cod-liver oil are given it.

Dr. Stross

Is the hon. Lady not aware that her right hon. and learned Friend and the advisers in the Department are all agreed that this is a very valuable substance for children to take in their early years in order to prevent certain diseases? While it is true that the Minister and the hon. Lady take steps to advertise the value of cod-liver oil by means of leaflets and posters, is it not very disturbing that there is a continuous fall in the consumption of cod-liver oil?

Miss Pitt

Yes, but vitamin D is obtainable from the diet in other ways, apart from cod-liver oil. Now that we have an infinite variety of foodstuffs to purchase and the money to buy them, there is no deficiency of this vitamin, although we are anxious to encourage mothers to continue to give it to their children.

Mr. Kershaw

Has my hon. Friend seen the recent expression of medical opinion that we stuff far too many of these things down our children's throats? What steps are being taken by her Department to make sure that medical opinions so expressed are rightly assessed?

Miss Pitt

The appropriate steps are taken. This is left to the individual mother, though we do our best to encourage her when we know the value of certain vitamins; and the value has certainly been established in this case.

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