HC Deb 25 November 1999 vol 339 cc746-7
10. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

What discussions his Department has had with education authorities regarding food hygiene education in schools. [98846]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Ms Joyce Quin)

The Department is collaborating very closely with the Health Education Authority and others on the development of food hygiene teaching resources, which are being supplied free to all UK primary and secondary schools.

Helen Jackson

When I was at school, we had domestic science once a week—that is, the girls did. Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the potential new millennium nightmares is of a generation living from cradle to grave on pre-packaged, pre-cooked meals? Does she agree that her answer shows that the Government are working in a joined-up manner to promote healthy living and food safety, in the wake of the disastrous scares—including those involving salmonella, E. coli and BSE—of the past few years?

Ms Quin

I thank my hon. Friend for her question and her comments. She must have gone to a more enlightened school than I did, because I had to choose between domestic science and Latin. Domestic science was not compulsory, but it would have been a good thing. [Interruption.] I am not sure that either my Latin or my domestic science is up to standard.

I strongly endorse my hon. Friend's comments about the awareness of hygiene and fresh food issues. The programme that we have introduced—and especially the efforts of my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker)—will be important in bringing to schools, especially secondary schools, varied and valuable information about food hygiene and related issues.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate)

Late last year the European Union suspended the use of zinc bacitracin in animal feed, which has led to the wholly unwelcome consequences of increases in the incidence of necrotic enteritis and cholangiohepatitis in poultry and—with implications for food safety and children—to farmers having to turn to the use of amoxycillin and penicillin to keep their poultry free of those—

Madam Speaker

Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman has been keen to get in on questions that relate to the subject that he is speaking about, but this question concerns food hygiene education in schools.

Mr. Blunt

I believe it is relevant.

Madam Speaker

I am not sure that it is, and that is the point that I am making. I would be grateful if we could continue with food hygiene in schools.

Mr. Blunt

Is the increased use of penicillin and amoxycillin in poultry as a result of the Government's policy a good thing for food hygiene in schools and, if not—

Madam Speaker

Order. That was not a good try, so we will find somebody else.