Skip to main content

Food (Lead Content)

Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on progress made since 1974 on reducing the lead content of food.

Weekly ingestion of lead from food and drink by the average person is about 1·2 milligrams, which is less than half the provisional tolerable weekly intake for adults of 3 milligrams recommended by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. There has been no significant change in this figure since 1974. My Department is carrying out a continuous monitoring exercise to determine the lead content of foodstuffs consumed not only by the average per. son but also by those sections of the population such as young children that may, potentially, be at greater risk.With the active co-operation of manufacturers of foods specially prepared for infants and young children, a substantial reduction in the lead content of such foods in cans has been achieved.New lead in food regulations will shortly be laid. These regulations will make substantial reductions in the permitted maximum levels of lead in food. The very existence of these lower limits—made possible by advances in technology —necessarily means that food manufacturers must aim for an even lower level of lead to be certain of complying with the new legal requirements.