§ Dr. David Clark
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is conducting research into methods of sterilising herbs and spices other than irradiation and ethylene oxide; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Gummer
The industry is conducting research actively into the sterilisation of herbs and spices.
At present the only effective ways of ensuring that herbs and spices are free from microbiological contamination are treatment with ethylene oxide or irradiation. The problem in developing alternative treatments is the need to ensure that they are suitable for all, rather than just some, herbs and spices. Some promising new methods are currently being investigated, but it is too early to say whether any of these will be successful.