§ 10. Mr. Jim Marshall
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met the Consumers Association to discuss methods of reducing food poisoning incidents in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Maclean
My right hon. Friend met consumer organisations, including the Consumers Association, yesterday as part of a series of regular meetings to discuss policy issues, including food safety matters.
§ Mr. Marshall
Is the Minister aware that there is general concern about the increase in food poisoning, as illustrated by a sixfold increase in the Trent region in the past seven years? Does he agree that local authority environmental health officers have an important part to play in combating food poisoning, but that their task is being made far more difficult by an insufficiency of financial resources?
§ Mr. Maclean
I think that the hon. Gentleman is taking a rather simplistic approach to combating food poisoning. We have a whole host of measures to deal with food poisoning, not least the Food Safety Act which came into effect on 1 January this year. The Act gives widely and greatly increased powers to environmental health officers and others to implement the law without a huge increase in resources being necessary, but we have also provided an extra £30 million for local authorities to help enforce the Food Safety Act.