HL Deb 12 May 1977 vol 383 cc363-5

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have noted the articles which appeared recently in the magazine Ecologist on the subject of carcinogens in foodstuffs offered to the public; whether they have compared American regulations on this subject with United Kingdom practice as illustrated by these articles; and whether action is contemplated.


My Lords, we are aware of the article and of American regulations. We are satisfied that our systems of control, which are kept under regular review, are effective to protect the health of our consumers. We are advised on these matters by independent expert committees on a continuing basis. We also have regard to experience and action in other parts of the world, and to the advice given by other expert bodies, not only within the European Economic Community but also, for example, by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation. Our existing laws enable us at any time and without delay to take such further action as we consider necessary to add to the already extensive protection given.


My Lords, is there a case for the legislation to be criticised over these various practices?


My Lords, the general control on the use of food additives and contaminants is, of course, exercised through the Food and Drugs Act 1955.


My Lords, in view of his statement that many organisations and experts have been engaged in investigation into this very important study, may I ask my noble friend whether any reports have been published and made public? Further, is my noble friend aware that the continuing processing of various foods may be having a deleterious effect on the health of the public, and is it not desirable that we should be well informed on the subject?


Yes, my Lords, certainly; and the Government welcome that. I cannot say exactly which reports are published, but I will go into it and let my noble friend know, if possible, by way of a Written Answer.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, as man is growing more neurotic, more schizophrenic and more sophisticated, his stomach is unable to digest Nature's natural foods and that a little more realistic living and less sophistication would do civilisation a power of good?


Yes, my Lords, I agree with what my noble friend has said. I may say that with regard to colours in food, this whole question is being reviewed by the Food Additives and Contaminants Committee, and particular attention is being paid to colours in foods consumed by children.


My Lords, while being very reassured by the statement given by the noble Lord on this Question, is he aware that if we were to follow the American way of dealing with food additives we should not be able to eat, drink or breathe without being afraid of having cancer? Is he also aware that in the United States there is not one day when people are not warned about cancer; that there are programmes on cancer, and that everybody is liable to be frightened to death rather than cured?


Yes, my Lords, I agree with my noble friend. Of course, if you avoid the risk of cancer you then come up against the risks involved in alternative foods, which might give you cholesterol poisoning.

Back to