HC Deb 08 June 1964 vol 696 cc21-2W
84. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food how many tins of corned beef have been released on the market by his Department in the last month to relieve the beef shortage; how old were the stocks so released; what tests were made as to the edibility of the corned beef; what is the estimated time such stocks remain in edible condition; and whether he is satisfied that adequate stocks exist to counter similar shortages in beef supplies in the near future.

Mr. Soames

As regards the first three parts of this Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave him on Wednesday, 3rd June. Releases from Government stocks are made solely for the purpose of turning over those stocks and not to relieve any shortage of beef. There is no set period of storage life, but the meat is not released from the Government's stocks for human consumption unless it is in good condition.

85. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many tins of corned beef have been disposed of by his Department, from the emergency reserve, for sale to the public since 1st January, 1963; how long the tins had been in stock; what precautions were taken to ensure that the meat did not suffer from black staining, or have a distinct metallic taste as the result of being too long in the tins; and in what way the interests of the consumer were considered in making such transactions.

Mr. Soames

As regards the first two parts of his Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) on 3rd June. The tests carried out before meat is released from Government stocks are designed to safeguard the interests of consumers. Any consignment that appeared on sampling to be seriously affected by black staining or metallic taste but was otherwise wholesome, would be disposed of for manufacture and not for retail sale.

87. Commander Kerans

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the quantity of corned beef held by his Department as a strategic reserve, and the annual disbursement of these stocks to private retailers.

Mr. Soames

Since these stocks are part of Government stocks held for defence purposes, I cannot disclose the total quantity held. The average rate of disposal is 1,000 tons a month.

Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what stocks of imported corned beef are now in store in Great Britain; where they are situated; what is their weight, nature, content and source of origin; when they were last scientifically examined; what were the results of such examination; and what are his plans for their retention or for their distribution for human consumption.

Mr. Soames

I assume the hon. and learned Member is referring to the Government stocks which are maintained for defence purposes, and I regret that I cannot give details of their extent or location.

The sources of origin are Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The stocks are turned over regularly. They are examined and sampled by a firm of public surveyors who are expert in assessing the condition of the meat. This examination and sampling is a continuous process and ensures both that the stocks are always in sound condition for further long-term storage and that the meat released in the course of turning over the stocks is suitable for human consumption.

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