HC Deb 19 May 1965 vol 712 cc1434-6
10. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of medical concern about his decision to permit the use of chemical sweeteners in the soft-drinks industry; and if he will reconsider this.

16. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware of further scientific investigations, details of which have been sent to him, which have been carried out into the consequences of using artificial sweeteners such as cyclamates on a large scale in foods and drinks; and whether, in the light of this information, he will arrange for the whole matter to be reconsidered by the Food Standards Committee and the Committee on Medical and Nutritional Aspects of Food Policy before authorising the large-scale and indefinite use of cyclamates in foods and drinks in this country.

Mr. Peart

I have referred the additional evidence to the Food Additives and Contaminants Committee and it has been given preliminary consideration by its Pharmacology Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee has advised that it does not consider the new evidence justifies a reversal of the advice previously given; namely that the use of cyclamates in soft drinks up to the maximum limits permitted by the Regulations does not constitute a hazard to health and may be used for the time being. It wishes, however, to review all the evidence on the use of cyclamates and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I shall not make regulations permitting a more general use of cyclamates in food until we have received its final report.

Mrs. Butler

While I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether cyclamates have been submitted to and passed all the tests required by his Department for new food additives? The National Research Council of the United States is not satisfied that the long-term studies have gone far enough. Bearing in mind that these soft drinks are drunk in large quantities by people—such as young children and nursing mothers—with special susceptibilities, will not my right hon. Friend follow the example of other countries and not permit the use of these additives in soft drinks until more is known? Children and others consume very large quantities of these artificially sweetened drinks.

Mr. Peart

Regulations regarding the use of chemical additives in soft drinks were issued prescribing the maximum quantities which may be used per 10 gallons. I do not think that there is any harm here, but as I have said, the Committee is reviewing this and considering all the evidence.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Will the right hon. Gentleman look again at this matter seriously because I cannot thank him for his Answer, although no doubt it was given in good faith? There is sufficient new evidence to require him to look carefully at this and not to allow the continuing use of these chemicals without drastic investigation.

Mr. Peart

I accept that the use of any chemical artificial sweetener must be looked at very carefully from the health point of view. However, there are interests which take a contrary view and I must bear all these factors in mind. That is why I asked for this evidence to be considered by the Committee. When it has considered it and reported, I will make a decision.