asked the Lord President of the Council whether he has consulted the Medical Research Council on the effect that the extraction of vitamins from the bread now obtainable throughout the country has had on the increase of meningitis and infantile paralysis; and if immediate steps will be taken to reduce the extraction and to ensure that the bread content shall be the same as in 1939–40.
I am advised that the vitamin content of the bread obtainable in this country since 1942 is in fact much greater than in 1939–40, since a higher proportion of the nutrient materials in the grain is retained in the flour. There is no evidence of any relationship between diet and the incidence of meningitis and infantile paralysis, but it is a fact that the death rates from cerebrospinal meningitis and from infantile paralysis in England and Wales were much lower in 1945 than in 1940.
Am I to understand that the quality of the vitamins in the bread today is better than it was prewar?
Generally speaking, I think that is the answer.
If that is so, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a great deal of misconception throughout the country? I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me when I say that if the increase in mortality as a result of this unfortunate epidemic is in no way due to lack of vitamins in the bread, it would be a consolation if he would give his answer in a way which is perhaps more easily understood by those concerned.
I am all for answers that can be more easily understood by all concerned. I would not wish to quarrel with the hon. Gentleman. I am assured that there is no connection between this particular disease and the subject of the Question. I am scientifically assured that that is so.
asked the Minister of Food whether he is satisfied that the vitamin content of the bread now on issue throughout the country provides adequate nourishment; and whether, under the circumstances of improving wheat production, he will consider reviewing the whole position so that the nutritious value of bread may be restored at any rate to that obtaining in 1939–40.
The question of the best extraction rate for flour has already been fully reviewed and the findings of the Conference on the Post-war Loaf were published in Cmd. 6701 in November, 1945. The vitamin content of the present 85 per cent. extraction flour is higher than that of the flour available in 1940.