HC Deb 26 January 1961 vol 633 cc315-7
9. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the advisability of using pure fresh milk instead of skim milk to which vegetable fats have been added, what action he proposes to take to ensure that in cafes, restaurants and canteens the public is adequately informed when skimmed milk is used in beverages instead of fresh milk.

16. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that many caterers serve skimmed milk fortified with vegtable fat in circumstances which lead customers to believe that it is full cream fresh milk; and whether he will make regulations under the Food and Drugs Act, 1955, to prevent this.

Mr. Soames

I am not aware that at the present time many caterers serve skimmed milk with non-milk fat. The Skimmed Milk with Non-Milk Fat Regulations which come into force next September will prevent the use of the word "milk" without appropriate qualification in the name of any drink containing skimmed milk. Where "milk" is not used in the name of the drink, the best safeguard for the customer who wants whole milk is to ask for it.

Mr. Dodds

Is it not a fact that progress has been made and that when skimmed milk to which vegetable fats have been added has been used in advertisements and on labels, it has to be declared? Why, then, is it not done for customers of restaurants, cafés or canteens? The right hon. Gentleman said that few restaurants will use it. Is he not aware that if Ile made this obligatory none would use it? Why should not the public know this? It is important.

Mr. Soames

These Regulations flow from the Food and Drugs Act, the purpose of which is to protect the consumer and to ensure that when he asks for a certain product he gets it and not an ersatz one. Under these Regulations, if the customer asks for milk, or for any drink with milk in it, he will have to get a drink consisting of whole milk, or the firm concerned will commit an offence. It would be extremely difficult —and I doubt whether it would be wise —to devise Regulations intended to ensure that if a customer does not ask for milk he should still get it.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Minister aware that my Question refers to the prevention of possible misleading? Is this not a clear case where both the producer and the consumer should be protected by the Government? Is the Minister aware that our Prayer against these Regulations is bound to have the support—which has been declared publicly—of many dozens of his hon. Friends?

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his Answer will give general reassurance that the Regulations in question afford a proper measure of protection to the consumer?

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