HC Deb 10 March 1977 vol 927 cc627-8W
Mr. Watt

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what regulations govern the maximum level of mercury in fish and fish products;

(2) what quantity of fishery products was imported from Canada in 1975; and if these were products monitored for mercury levels.

Mr. Strang

There are no regulations governing the maximum level of mercury in fish and fish products. Fish and fish products are, however, subject to the general provisions of the Food and Drugs Act 1955 and the Food and Drugs (Scotland) Act 1956 relating to the soundness of food. Imported food is also subject to the Imported Food Regulations 1968 and the Imported Food (Scotland) Regulations 1968, which have a similar effect.

In a report published in 1973 the Food Additives and Contaminants Committee recommended that statutory limits for mercury in food were not necessary, but that the enforcement authorities should continue to ensure that fish and other food exported to this country, containing levels of mercury unacceptable in the country of origin, should not find its way on to the United Kingdom market. These recommendations, which were accepted, were confirmed by the Committee in November 1976.

6,790 tonnes of fish and fish preparations, including 1,744 tonnes fresh, chilled, frozen or semi-preserved fish and shell fish and 5,046 tonnes prepared or preserved, including in air-tight containers, were imported from Canada in 1975. These were subject to the Acts and Imported Food Regulations and the administrative controls referred to above.

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