HC Deb 15 January 2003 vol 397 c677W
John McDonnell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the use of disclaimers by restaurants when selling undercooked meat products. [88988]

Ms Blears

Any person who sells food for human consumption in a restaurant, or indeed elsewhere, which fails to comply with food safety requirements is guilty of an offence.

The food safety requirements, as set out in Section 8 of the Food Safety Act 1990, contain three alternative limbs.

The first states that the food must not have been rendered injurious to health by means of certain operations, e.g. adding articles or substances to the food or subjecting it to processes or treatments.

The second is that the food must not be unfit for human consumption.

The third is that the food must not be so contaminated that it would not be reasonable to expect it to he used for human consumption in that state.

If food is sold which breaches any of the three limbs then, regardless of a disclaimer, an offence is committed.

Mrs. Calton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what statistical baseline from laboratory reports in 2000 the Food Standards Agency has based its target for reduction of food-borne illness; and what the most recent performance statistics are in relation to this target. [88715]

Ms Blears

The Food Standards Agency's target for reducing food-borne illness by 20 per cent. by 2006 is based on laboratory reports of the five major food-borne pathogens (Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli 0157, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens), excluding cases reported as having been acquired abroad. These data are collected by the Public Health Laboratory Service communicable disease surveillance centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and by the Scottish Centre for infection and environmental health for Scotland.

When the baseline was announced in August 20011, there were 65,209 confirmed laboratory reports in the year 2000. However, it should be noted that the majority of people with food-borne disease do not consult a doctor or have a specimen sent for laboratory testing, and therefore the number of cases of food poisoning will be significantly higher.

Updates on progress against the target will be reported annually to the Board and can be downloaded from the Agency's website.

The figures for 2001 (the year in which the Agency's strategy for reducing food-borne disease was being finalised) were reported to the Board in May 2002, and showed a small increase (1 per cent.) in the number of cases. 1www.food.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/poisoningreduction