HC Deb 02 July 1998 vol 315 cc514-5
10. Mr. Ross Cranston (Dudley, North)

What assessment he has made of the effect of the publication of hygiene scores for abattoirs. [47165]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Jeff Rooker)

The publication of individual hygiene scores for licensed abattoirs and cutting plants is one of several measures designed to drive up standards in the meat industry. Although measurable improvements have been achieved and they have been substantial, we accept that more remains to be done, and we continue to push the industry to make further improvements and to eliminate bad practices.

Mr. Cranston

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Will he confirm that Britain is the only country in Europe that publishes individual scores? With the aim of propagating that information more widely, will he tell us where the best and worst abattoirs in the country are?

Mr. Rooker

There has been a considerable improvement in the past 12 months. Hygiene scores above the 65 mark in April 1997 were 61 per cent., and in March 1998, were 94 per cent. That must have something to do with the fact that, since January this year, for each abattoir and cutting plant, the scores have been published. The two plants with the lowest hygiene score according to latest figures for June are Heaney meats of Woolwich and Cruisedeal of Manchester—both cutting plants—with a hygiene assessment score of only 50, which is unacceptably low. The two plants with the highest score were Knowles and Son of Bury and Mid Glamorgan Provisions of Bridgend—both stand-alone cutting plants—with a hygiene score of 100.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

What are the Government doing to ensure that imported meats meet the same high hygiene standards as meat in this country has to meet?

Mr. Rooker

I can honestly say to the hon. Lady that we are doing a lot more than her party did when it was in government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Come on.] Oh yes. On Friday, we saw as a matter of public record that, in 1992, the previous Prime Minister instructed a previous Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to go easy on hygiene standards in abattoirs in this country. We are doing far more than that. Meat will not be allowed into this country from abroad to be sold unless it meets the standards demanded of the meat industry by the Labour Government, which are much higher than those demanded by the previous Government.

Forward to