HC Deb 01 July 2004 vol 423 cc428-9
7. Mr. Bob Blizzard (Waveney) (Lab)

What his policy is on teaching food hygiene in schools. [181599]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Mr. Stephen Twigg)

All primary pupils are taught food technology as part of the national curriculum. At key stage 3, the Government strongly encourage secondary schools to offer pupils the opportunity to study food technology, and 90 per cent. do so. Pupils team procedures for food safety and hygiene, which it includes safe food handling in the preparation, cooking and storage of food.

Mr. Blizzard

I hear what my hon. Friend says, but food is one of the main ways by which infections and diseases are acquired and transmitted. Is it not vital that more is done, beyond the primary level, to ensure that all our children understand basic food hygiene, which there is not really much about in the national curriculum? I used to be a teacher, and I did not find that children at secondary level were given much instruction in food hygiene. Will my hon. Friend have another look at this matter? I am worried that we are creating a time bomb, as fewer and fewer of today's children understand basic food hygiene.

Mr. Twigg

I shall be happy to look at the matter again. As my hon. Friend suggests, there is a strong focus on personal hygiene in the primary school curriculum, but the focus in secondary schools is more on science teaching. As he is probably aware, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is leading on a cross-government project to publish a healthy living blueprint later this year. I undertake to ensure that concerns about food hygiene are central to that document.

Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central) (Lab)

It has been my pleasure over the past few years to present food hygiene certificates to pupils at the Priory secondary school in my constituency. They are taught by one of the teachers, Christine Osbourne, in her spare time. Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to Christine Osbourne for giving up her time in that way? Will he encourage other schools and teachers to follow that example?

Mr. Twigg

I am very happy to pay tribute to Christine Osbourne and the pupils at the Priory school, and to join my hon. Friend in congratulating them on their achievements. There are many other fine examples of teachers who go beyond the call of duty to offer similar instruction. I am sure that all hon. Members would want to congratulate them.