HC Deb 25 March 2003 vol 402 cc133-4W
Mr. Keetch

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance is issued by her Department regarding the import of chicken that has previously been frozen; what percentage of chicken products imported into this country she estimates have been previously frozen on slaughter; and what the health and safety risks of consuming previously frozen chicken are. [103508]

Ms Blears

I have been asked to reply.

I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that the import of chicken from countries outside the European Union is covered by detailed legal requirements. Chicken must be slaughtered and processed in countries and premises that meet strict food safety standards at least equivalent to those required within the EU. This includes temperature control requirements. Chicken can only be imported into the EU through designated border inspection posts following prior notification and is subject to documentary and identity checks and prescribed levels of physical checks. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has responsibility for this legislation and for any guidance issued.

Chicken produced in other EU member states can be traded freely with other member states and is not subject to routine checks at United Kingdom ports.

All food on sale, including imports, may be subject to food safety checks by local authorities.

In 2001, 45 per cent. of UK imports of poultry meat from non-EU countries was frozen poultry carcass meat (source: Her Majesty's Customs and Excise).

Frozen poultry meat may be contaminated with food-borne pathogens, such as salmonella and campylobacter, as a recent government survey of poultry meat on retail sale in the UK showed. Therefore it is important for consumers to be aware of the advice on safe storage, handling and preparation of raw poultry meat.

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