HC Deb 15 May 1968 vol 764 cc1203-4
12. Mr. Jopling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps the Meat and Livestock Commission are taking to enable meat to be clearly labelled so that housewives can be fully aware of the fact that they are buying meat emanating from countries where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic.

Mr. Hoy

None, since this is not a matter for the Commission. All imported meat is already required to bear an indication of origin. Meat from non-Commonwealth countries must either specify the country of origin or be labelled "foreign".

Mr. Jopling

Does the Minister realise that many housewives do not want to buy meat which is potentially dangerous for another outbreak of this dreadful disease? Does he further realise that the powers which the Livestock Commission has enables it to label meat in that way so that housewives can be certain that they are running no risks of that sort?

Mr. Hoy

When we were discussing the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in Committee upstairs we discussed labelling to a considerable extent, and I remember how bitterly the hon. Gentleman opposed the labelling of meat. Under the Trade Descriptions (No. 2) Bill powers will be given to impose marketing regulations in the interests of buyers, and we shall consider what is appropriate for meat.

Dr. John Dunwoody

Will my hon. Friend take steps to ensure that as far as possible meat imported from these countries is sold in the big cities, and thus the inevitable risk of a recurrence of foot-and-mouth disease is reduced to a minimum?

Mr. Hoy

Once the meat comes in it is very difficult to direct the wholesaler where to sell it. The difficulty is almost insuperable. As far as possible the wholesaler likes to sell that type of meat in the larger cities.

Mr. James Davidson

In view of the Minister's original reply, when he said that it was obligatory to mark the country of origin on imported meat, may I ask whether that is applicable to bacon and what steps are taken to see that the provision is enforced?

Mr. Hoy

I cannot answer that off the cuff, but I think that it applies to bacon. I said that the country of origin ought to be stated, or at least it must be labelled "foreign".