HC Deb 16 November 1976 vol 919 cc482-4W
Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, what steps he has taken to publicise his decision to ban the import of Bal Javant Chamcho among Asian community associations; if he will use television to warn mothers that this baby food is lethal, using languages common to Asian immigrants; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moyle

As indicated in my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Jenkin) on 4th November—[Vol. 918, c.684]—the Secretary of State has now made a prohibition order under the Medicines Act 1968. This became effective on 10th November and prohibits the importation, sale and supply of Bal Javan Chamcho Baby Tonic.

Information about the ban on the import, sale or supply of the product has been distributed to an extensive list of ethnic minority newspapers and to radio and television programmes serving the Asian community. It has also been sent to the national and major provincial Press, medical, pharmaceutical, nursing and social work journals and to radio and television.

This reinforces similar action taken over the weekend, commencing on 29th October following the receipt of adverse information about the product. As a result, warnings were given in the national and provincial Press and in radio and television programmes, including those of the BBC Asian Service, which also held a special discussion of the matter in its morning television programme on Sunday 7th November.

As the same time the Chief Medical Officer of my Department wrote to medical officers for environmental health and area medical officers with copies to chief environmental health officers, chief trading standards officers and regional medical officers, alerting them to the dangers. Similar action was taken in Scotland. These officers have also taken urgent steps to warn local Asian communities of the risks of using the product. Retail and other outlets serving these communities were visited and where found stocks have been surrendered.

From information received investigations are proceeding with a view to possible prosecutions. It has been reported that very small quantities of the product have been discovered in about 10 areas. These and 3,222 boxes found in the possession of a wholesale dealer have been surrendered. The order will make control possible at points of entry into the United Kingdom, and will allow the prosecution of any person selling or supplying it.