HL Deb 29 May 1963 vol 250 cc948-50WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will publish the results of the investigation into the presence of penicillin and other antibiotics in milk; and what action they propose to take.


The report by the Milk and Milk Products Technical Advisory Committee on antibiotics in milk in Great Britain is published today. Copies are available in the Printed Paper Office.

Antibiotics, which provide the most effective treatment for mastitis in dairy cows, are normally passed into the milk for a period after treatment. The sale of such milk for human consumption is considered by medical experts to be undesirable because of the possibility that it could have ill-effects on the health of a few people who may be, or may become, particularly sensitive to antibiotics.

The Milk Marketing Board for England and Wales in its contract with producers already requires them to withhold from sale milk from cows recently treated with antibiotics, and the three Scottish Boards also require or advise producers to do this. But my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Agriculture are concerned about the proportion of milk samples taken at the dairies which have been found to contain traces of antibiotics, and at the request of my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture dairies in England and Wales have already begun to carry out and will be extending tests on incoming milk for antibiotics. Producers whose milk is found to contain antibiotics will be reported to the Milk Marketing Board and will be liable to disciplinary action. The Scottish Milk Marketing Board has also a testing scheme in operation, and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is asking the other two Milk Marketing Boards in Scotland to make similar arrangements.

The British Veterinary Association and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry have been asked to co-operate with the Government in implementing those recommendations which affect them.

House adjourned at six minutes past seven o'clock.