§ Mr. Duncan
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what action he proposes to take on mineral hydrocarbons in food.
§ Mrs. Browning
My predecessor announced last year his intention of making regulations to allow the direct food use of two mineral hydrocarbon waxes to continue for certain purposes, but otherwise to prohibit the use of mineral hydrocarbon oils and waxes. Uses as a glazing agent will be prohibited when we implement the EC directives on additives. However we have reviewed other uses in the light of further work which has shown that one of the two waxes cannot be adequately specified and that both are unsuitable for the intended purposes. We have also taken account of action by the European Commission to evaluate these products, which is likely in due course to lead to action at Community level.
In general the food industry has ended the use of mineral hydrocarbons except where there are not satisfactory alternatives, and consumer intakes are low. I welcome this response the advice that we have had from our independent advisory committees about the risk from mineral hydrocarbons in food. We have therefore decided not to take a separate initiative to amend the United Kingdom regulations as previously proposed, but to await Community action.