§ Mrs. Joyce Butler
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made with preventive measures to safeguard consumers from antibiotics in milk; what action has now been taken by the Milk Marketing Board; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Hoy
All penicillin preparations and most other mastitis treatments are now marked with the period during which milk from treated cows should not be sold. This is supplemented by advice from veterinary practitioners to farmers on the proper use of antibiotics. There has also been a publicity campaign directed towards the prevention (rather than cure) of mastitis. Producers are required by their contract with the Milk Marketing Board not to deliver any milk from treated cows until they believe that sufficient time has elapsed to avoid the presence of residues. Producers are also warned when dairy tests reveal traces of antibiotics.
The task of devising a simple but fully adequate test for general use in the dairies testing the milk has proved formidable, but I am glad to say that the technical difficulties now appear to have been overcome. The introduction of an organised scheme will depend on the co-operation of dairymen in testing the milk. Dairymen will also have to make laboratory arrangements and train staff. I expect the Milk Marketing Board to introduce its projected arrangements for paying reduced prices to producers whose milk is found to contain anti- 136W biotics as soon as a reasonable number of dairies have their arrangements ready.