HL Deb 19 February 1990 vol 516 cc131-2WA
Lord Stanley of Alderley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information they have concerning meat products incorporating a gel containing blood enzymes.

Baroness Trumpington

Should a company decide to use this technique for the preparation of meat products it would need to ensure that the product was safe and labelled in accordance with the Food Labelling Regulations 1984. This would apply equally to home-produced and imported products. In particular, those regulations require that food labels carry details of any process which the product has undergone where the omission of such detail would mislead the consumer, details of any ingredients used in the product, which would include blood enzymes, and a name for the food which would distinguish it from any other foodstuff with which it might be confused.

Misleading labelling of food is an offence under the Food Act 1984. It is not for the Government to suggest particular forms of words for labels. A company would need to decide what description of this or any similar process would adequately explain to its intended customers the exact nature of the foodstuff. Trading standards officers are responsible for enforcing the law: we are sure that most trading standards officers will already be aware of the development of this process but we are drawing the matter specifically to their attention.

The labelling rules apply equally to catering supplies and to retail sales. As part of its current labelling review, the Parliamentary Secretary in the department, Mr. Maclean, has already asked the Food Advisory Committee to look at the difficult matter of information provided to customers in restaurants, cafes or other catering outlets.

The Government were made aware only recently of the process which has been developed in the Netherlands but have no indications that it produces a foodstuff which is unsafe. The process has been developed by a very reputable Dutch institute and the data available so far to the department do not indicate any need for us to engage in our own research.

It would be a commercial decision for a British company to choose to use this technique in the production of its meat products. I am not aware of any company that has so decided nor is it my understanding that any such products are currently being marketed in the UK, or in the Netherlands. However, the department is monitoring developments closely and we will take any further action that seems appropriate in the interests of either food safety or consumer protection.