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Meat Products Regulations

Volume 21: debated on Thursday 1 April 1982

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take into account the representations from the National Consumer Council as to the addition of water into meat products such as bacon, ham and tenderised steak when deciding on the new meat products regulations.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
(Mrs. Peggy Fenner)

Yes, Sir. All representations on the proposed regulations are being very carefully considered.

In so doing, will my hon. Friend take account of the surprise felt by many people that the regulations currently allow such a high proportion of water additive to some of the meats mentioned in my question? If she wants an example of first-rate waterless meat put into sausages, may I take her out one evening and present her with a first-rate example of a sausage as it ought to be, manufactured in my constituency?

I should, of course, be delighted to join my hon. Friend, especially eating sausages, to which I am somewhat addicted.

It would perhaps be premature for me to speculate on the final contents of the regulations, but I confirm that the proposed 5 per cent. tolerance for water added to cuts and joints of meat is to be removed and all added water will have to be declared. The original proposals about burgers and sausages are being reconsidered in the light of representations.

Is the Minister aware that cooked meats are being sold, after steam cooking and flash roasting, with 25 per cent. water content? Is she further aware that bacon is being sold with a high water content and that housewives are compelled to pay bacon prices for water? Will she investigate this and take action to stop it?

I think that some of the hon. Gentleman's concern is a little exaggerated, but I assure him that proposed controls over the addition of water to cured meats are being reconsidered in consultation with enforcement authorities and manufacturers.