HC Deb 15 February 1990 vol 167 cc399-400W
Mr. Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the report of the Richmond committee on the microbiological safety of food.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Sir Mark Richmond submitted to Ministers on 18 January part 1 of his committee's report. It is being published today.

In this part, the committee has examined the incidence of food poisoning and its main causes (salmonella, campylobacter and listeria), outbreak management, surveillance arrangements, food manufacture, the poultry meat industry and the general legislative framework. My colleagues and I welcome it as a constructive and thorough document. We shall follow up positively its many useful recommendations. We trust that others to whom recommendations are addressed, in particular the food industry and environmental health authorities, will examine it to see how the level of food safety in this country can be further raised. We shall certainly draw it to their attention.

The committee's proposals for licensing in due course go further than the Government feel to be necessary. We do, however, see the value of the committee's views on prior notification and we intend to introduce a simple system of prior registration which would not impose unnecessary administrative burdens, but would help business and enforcement authorities alike.

The report indicates support for the Government's Food Safety Bill which the committee felt accommodates many of its views. Because we believe that many of the recommendations in the report call for early action and some are relevant to the Food Safety Bill now before Parliament, the Government have decided to publish their immediate response to the recommendations. This is set out in a paper which is being put into the Library.

My right hon. Friends and I are most grateful to the committee for its hard work so far. It has stated that in part 2 of its report it will examine the arrangements for Scotland and Northern Ireland; catering, retailing and the home; and other important foods. We are therefore extending the committee's life and asking it to finish its work by 31 July 1990.