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Mauritius (Milk Supplies)

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 6 August 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that milk supplied to the public in Mauritius is expensive and frequently adulterated; what steps are being taken by the local government to establish effective control over milk offered for sale; and what plans are there for the reorganisation of the distribution of milk, so that the public may be assured of adequate supplies at reasonable prices.

I have received a report from the Governor of Mauritius. As it is rather long I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

As there is only one part-time food inspector dealing with all the 400 sellers of milk will the Secretary of State represent to the Government of Mauritius the urgency of establishing pasteurisation depots?

Yes, Sir, the matter has been receiving very close attention from the local Government, a report has been received with a number of recommendations and definite steps are being taken.

Following is the reply:

It is true that milk supplied to the public is expensive, mostly of inferior quality and frequently adulterated. The present production is totally inadequate. This position has been aggravated by unsound animal husbandry methods and by illegal slaughter of milch cows during the war. The control which was previously established over the retail price could not be enforced owing to the unwillingness of consumers to report offending milk-sellers and has recently had to be lifted. Tests of the quality of milk offered for sale are regularly made and offenders are prosecuted, but it is realised that such measures are only pallatives.

The problem has been under close study for some time and plans have now been prepared to put the industry on a sound basis and to increase production by concerted attack on the following lines:

  • (a) Improvement of local herds by importation of pure-bred bulls and by experiments in artificial insemination.
  • (b) Grassland development involving eradication of "herbe condé," improvement of local grasses and introduction of new species.
  • (c) Production of fodder from cane tops, acacia meal and hay.
  • (d) Grouping of uneconomic units into co-operatives.
  • (e) Introduction of hygienic byres.
  • (f) Education of cow owners and milk distributors by propaganda in the field.
  • (g) Creation of a Veterinary Research Station.
  • (h) The Government dairy is to be retained as a demonstration and research station, the milk produced by the dairy being reserved for hospitals and child welfare institutions.
  • Much preliminary work has already been done, but the nature of the problem is such that improvement will inevitably be slow. It is expected, however, that when the Animal Husbandry Officer, for whom provision has been made, assumes duty, better progress will be made.