HC Deb 29 January 1992 vol 202 c570W
Mr. Soames

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will be in a position to publish the food surveillance report on dioxins.

Mr. Gummer

I am pleased to announce that the report, food surveillance paper No. 31, "Dioxins in Food" is published today.

The key finding is that levels of dioxins in United Kingdom food are so low that only the most sophisticated analytical techniques, capable of measuring accurately to 10 parts in a quadrillion—one thousand million million—can detect them. The report also records that the estimated average intake of dioxins via the diet is less than one quarter of the World Health Organisation tolerable daily intake. Any risk to health from these chemicals in food is therefore likely to be remote.

Other important findings were that levels of dioxins in milk were generally very low, especially at retail level and consumers' intake of dioxins from milk were consequently also low; levels of dioxins in all the samples of fruit, vegetables and eggs were extremely low and intakes from these foods were also very low; levels of dioxins in foods such as meat, fats and oils, and fish were, as expected, slightly higher than in the other foods tested—dioxins are known to accumulate in fatty tissues. Nevertheless, intakes from these products were still less than one tenth of the WHO tolerable daily intake.

The report also presents detailed results of the work carried out on milk from two farms near Bolsover in Derbyshire, previously announced on 26 June 1991, which was found to contain high levels of dioxins. Although retail milk in the area was found to be perfectly acceptable, action was taken last June as soon as the results became available to prevent milk from these premises entering the public supply thereby ensuring that consumers remained fully protected. The results from a special research programme currently being carried out on these farms will be published as soon as the work has been completed.

The report has been considered by independent expert committees, the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, and the Food Advisory Committee. These committees welcomed the work carried out, and confirmed the remoteness of any health risk. Surveillance work will, however, continue as recommended by the committees.

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