HC Deb 06 February 1989 vol 146 cc569-72W
Dr. David Clark

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish in the Official Report his letter of 11 August 1988 informing the Agriculture and Food Research Council of his decision to terminate the research work being undertaken into salmonella at Bristol.

Mr. Ryder

I did not write to the Agriculture and Food Research Council Institute of Food Research on 11 August 1988, but a member of my staff did and the hon. Member may be aware of the contents of that letter.

The letter recorded agreement by my Department and the institute to phase out support for four research projects.

The first is a project on the manipulation of the microbial flora of the gut of young chickens in order to control salmonella in broiler hens. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary explained the reasons for terminating the funding of this project in answer to a question from the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Williams) on 15 December, Official Report, column 653. The second project relates to bacteria on meat and food-borne illnesses. This was a basic research project, the short-term objectives of which were completed. The longer term objectives have been incorporated into a revised programme of microbiological research in the Institute of Food Research.

The third project related to the development of methods for determining authenticity, adulteration and origin of food and beverages. This was terminated because of the slow progress and the ability of other contractors to carry forward the work. The final project referred to in the letter related to the processing of potato tubers and was terminated in line with the institute's commitment to reduce efforts in commodity-led research and in the light of the fact that the Ministry was pursuing related research at other centres.

The decisions reached on these four projects need to be viewed in the context of the decision to increase the funding of the institute's programme on food safety from £740,000 this year to £849,000 in the next financial year.

Dr. David Clark

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the protein processing plants that were found to be contaminated with salmonella in 1987 and 1988 were allowed to continue selling feedstuff's within the time limits imposed upon them for producing a salmonella-free product; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Donald Thompson

Until recently, statutory provisions did not exist to prevent the supply of processed animal protein from premises where salmonella had been detected by testing samples of the product. An amendment order to the Diseases of Animals (Protein Processing) Order 1981 came into operation on 2 February and provides Ministry inspectors with such powers.

Dr. David Clark

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the number of incidents of salmonella duldin in cattle in each of the last 10 years.

Mr. Donald Thompson

The number of incidents of salmonella duldin in cattle in each of the last 10 years is as follows:

1979 566
1980 498
1981 435
1982 556
1983 586
1984 424
1985 511
1986 463
1987 544
1988 1502
1 Provisional.

Mr. Boswell

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his decision to withdraw research funds from the work at the Institute of Food Research on competitive exclusion as a method of controlling salmonella in poultry.

Mr. MacGregor

Work on competitive exclusion at Bristol, which has been in progress for more than a decade, has reached the point where successful trials have been carried out in commercial production units. Following appraisal by representatives of MAFF and AFRC, it was recognised that the principle of competitive exclusion has been established as a method of control relevant to salmonella in poultry. It was concluded that the technique was ready for adoption by industry under appropriate circumstances and with suitable safeguards to prevent the introduction or spread of disease. Major poultry firms are aware of this work at Bristol. It is for industry to decide whether to adopt the technique for commercial application.

I have now received the report of a joint MAFF, DoH and British Egg Industry Council working group report on salmonella and eggs dealing with research into this area and am considering its recommendations urgently. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.

We are already funding an extensive programme of research relevant to control of salmonella in poultry as follows:

Current Work on Salmonella SPP


  • Risk and Hazard Analysis in Egg Infections
  • Thermal Destruction of Salmonella enteritidis Phase Type 4 in the Domestic Cooking of Food Containing Eggs
  • Manipulation of the Microbial Flora of the Gut of Young Chicks to Control Salmonellas in Broilers
  • Survival and Growth of Salmonellae and Bacillus subtilis in Baking Ingredients
  • Salmonella Shedding in Poultry
  • Serological Diagnosis of Salmonella enteritidis Infection Plasmid Profile Analysis of Salmonella enteritidis
  • Development of a Salmonella enteritidis Vaccine to Prevent Salmonella Infections in Chickens

Salmonella Service: Bacteria Typing, Surveillance and Work Under the Protein Processing Order

  • Work being carried out under the Zoonosis Order and in Collaboration with PHLS
  • Development of Immunoassays for the Rapid Detection of Food Poisoning Organisms
  • Growth Characteristics of Food Poisoning Organisms at Sub-lethal Temperatures
  • Microbial Antagonism to Increase the Safety and Stability of Chilled Foods
  • Low Sodium Chloride Foods/Microbiological Safety and Technological Characteristics
  • Modes of Action and Interaction of Preservatives on Micro-organisms
  • Detection of Sub-lethal Injury in Micro-organisms
  • Use of Non-radioactive DNA Probes for the Detection of Pathogenic Bacteria in Food
  • Enzyme-linked Immunological Biosensors for Detection and Identification of Pathogenic Bacteria in Food
  • Bacteria and Hygiene in Abattoirs
  • Bacteria on Meat and Food-borne Illness
  • Define Factors Controlling Microbial Growth and Develop Predictive Models
  • Microbiological Safety of Chilled Foods Including Salads Microbiological Hazards in Domestic and Institutional Handling of Food
  • Determination of Food Constituents and Contaminants by ELISA
  • Electron Transfer Coupling as a Rapid Method for Assessment of Bacterial Contamination
  • Factors Determining Intestinal Colonisation by Salmonella
  • Investigating the Basis of Virulance of the Salmonella Genus
  • Variation in Virulence of Salmonellas, Host Responses to Infection, Novel Vaccines and Strategies for Use
  • Salmonellosis in Cattle—To determine the epidemiology in order that methods to minimise the spread and effects of infection can be formulated and applied
  • Heat Induced Thermotolerance in Food Poisoning Organisms
  • Survey of Bacteriological Quality of Goats Milk
  • Lysozyme Destruction of Gram Negative Organisms in Chicken and Red Meat
  • Bacteriological Hazards of Large Meat Roasts in Catering and Long Storage of Chilled Foods in Catering
  • Effects of Heat, Cold, Drying, Radiation on Bacteria and their Recovery and Growth
  • Food Safety by Predicting Microbial Growth
  • 572
  • The Microbiology of Meat and Fish Packaged for Retail Sale
  • Development of Direct Epifluorescent Filter Techniques (DEFT)