§ Mr. Bellingham
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the boiling of freshly caught shrimps in seawater would be banned as part of the implementation of the EC directive on fish hygiene; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Curry
It will not. EC Directive 91/493 setting common public health requirements for fishery products contains no provisions on the water to be used for cooking shrimps at sea. It does require shrimps cooked at sea to be rapidly cooled, and states that the water used for this purpose must be drinking water or clean seawater. "Clean seawater" is defined in the directive asseawater or briny water which is free from microbiological contamination, harmful substances and/or toxic marine plankton in such quantities as may affect the health quality of fishery products".
Hence, the directive expressly envisages the use of seawater by shrimpers, and recent reports that this will be prohibited are incorrect. The Department of Health has lead responsibility for preparing national regulations which will give effect to the provisions of the Directive by 1 January 1993; the proposed regulations will of course be the subject of consultation.