HC Deb 10 April 1946 vol 421 cc312-3W
61. Mr. Murray

asked the Minister of Food the reasons which caused the following to become unfit for human consumption, namely: 214 lbs. of tea, 924 cases of canned fruit, 83 cases of tomato puree, 125 cases of beans in tomato and 165 tons of cereals and cereal products; what steps he has taken to prevent a recurrence in the future; and how many dozen units were contained in each case.

Sir B. Smith:

Two hundred and fourteen lbs. of tea became unfit for human consumption through damage by oil or water while in public warehouses. The value of the damaged tea has been claimed from the warehousekeepers. Seven hundred cases of canned fruit, part of a consignment of 11,600 cases of pineapple received during 1945 from the United States under Lease-Lend terms for issue to the Fighting Services suffered deterioration and became unfit for human consumption owing to the acid action of the fruit upon inferior tinplate and as the result of a canning defect. This is unlikely to recur. Two hundred and twenty-four cases, less than 1 per cent.—a not undue percentage—of canned fruit, drawn from ten consignments, totalling 23,400 cases, exhibited various defects. Eighty-three cases of tomato puree were found on arrival in this country to have been damaged during ocean transit; the damage to stocks of this commodity amounted to 0.0385 per cent. of the total. One hundred and twenty-five cases of beans in tomato represents part of the residue of 19,000 tons released during a six-months' period after three years' storage. These defects are less than those to be expected in normal commercial practice. I am satisfied that all reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the satisfactory condition of stored foodstuffs. The number of units in each case varies according to the size of the cans, but the cases contained 45 lb. of canned fruit or canned tomato puree or 48 lb. of baked beans. Of the cereals and cereal products, 124 tons were either damaged in store or were sweepings collected during the clearing of stores. Forty-one tons were damaged by exceptional flooding. All damaged cereals and cereal products were used for animal feeding. Some loss of cereals and cereal products, when stored in bulk in any but the most modern stores, is inevitable. Since the outbreak of war, it has been necessary to use much accommodation that was not designed or ideally suited for the purpose.