HC Deb 18 December 1991 vol 201 cc194-5W
Mr. Gill

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends to introduce further measures to ensure consumers are protected from residues of veterinary medicines; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer

New regulations under the Food Safety Act to strengthen existing controls on veterinary residues have been laid before the House today. These controls include the following main featuresto make it an offence to use unauthorised drugs in food producing animals; to enable animal carcases found to contain residues of illegal drugs, or residues of authorised animal medicines in excess of certain prescribed maximum residue limits (M R Ls), to be condemned as unfit for human consumption; to make it an offence to sell for slaughter animals containing unauthorised drugs or medicinal residues in excess of the prescribed MRLs; to make it an offence for shops to sell meat containing such residues; to require farmers using authorised animal medicines to observe specified withdrawal periods prior to slaughter; to give new powers to Ministry veterinary officers and other officials to detain and check animals or meat if misuse is suspected.

Our record of surveillance on residues in meat is an excellent one. The Ministry carries out a comprehensive programme of sampling checks on animals at slaughterhouses and farms and on meat and meat products obtained from retail outlets and elsewhere. The results tell a good story, but consumers of British meat can now be doubly sure that harmful residues of animal medicines are not being passed on to the food chain.

The new controls provide a mechanism for firm action to be taken, should this be required. Consumers have every right to demand the highest standards. These additional controls will help ensure that British meat stays safe to eat, and at the top of the quality league.