HC Deb 19 March 1998 vol 308 c1410
17. Mr. Spring

If he will make a statement on the impact on the livestock industry of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy's recommendations on red meat consumption. [33771]

Mr. Rooker

We have no way of measuring the exact impact on the livestock industry of recommendations made by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy in its recent report on the relationship between diet and cancer. For the avoidance of doubt, I remind the House that all the work on that report was completed before the Government came to power.

Mr. Spring

Does the hon. Gentleman realise how demoralising all this is for beef farmers and, indeed, how confusing it is for consumers? I do not want to make any party-political point, but does he accept that constant change in what is supposedly safe and what we can or cannot eat is very undermining and reduces significantly the credibility of Government spokesmen?

Mr. Rooker

The hon. Gentleman's remarks are based on many of the myths and press reports surrounding the publication of the report. The fact of the matter is that COMA' s recommendations about reducing the consumption of red and processed meat apply only to above average consumers, especially those who consume very high quantities of red and processed meat. The recommendations do not apply to the vast generality of the British public who eat red meat.