HC Deb 12 November 2003 vol 413 cc296-7W
Mr. Gordon Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to restrict the use of growth promoters in(a) animals and (b) fish destined for human consumption. [137558]

Mr. Bradshaw

The authorisation and use of antimicrobials used in farming to promote growth is subject to strict controls set down by the European Union (Council Directive 70/524/EC amended). Under these rules such products cannot be authorised unless they satisfy statutory criteria designed to ensure that, at the level permitted in feedstuffs they will not adversely affect human or animal health or the environment.

Additionally they may only be used in accordance with the terms set out in an annex to the Directive, which specifies the species in which they may be used, authorised dosage rates and the withdrawal periods that must be applied before animals can be slaughtered for human consumption.

The UK Government supported the recent adoption of a new Regulation that will replace Directive 70/524,1 EEC from September next year. One of the major consequences of this change will be the phasing out, across the EU, of all remaining antimicrobial growth promoters by 1 January 2006, as a precautionary measure.

In the meantime the Government are continuing to work closely with the industry's Responsible Use of Medicines Alliance (RUMA) both to promote the responsible use of these products and in drawing up plans to assist industry to adjust to their use being banned from January 2006.