asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that cockles imported from the Netherlands have been processed in satisfactory hygienic conditions.
Under routine arrangements, Dutch cockles imported into this country are examined microbiologically on a sample basis to determine their suitability for human consumption. I understand that almost without exception the samples are found to be satisfactory. When they are not, they are rejected.
I have no reason to doubt the adequacy of the standards of hygiene at Dutch shore-based processing plants. Certain failures in hygienic practice on fishing boats which process cockles onboard were, however, observed by a British trade delegation to the Netherlands last October. My officials have taken up these criticisms with officials of the Dutch Health Ministry. An assurance has been received that measures to rectify the failings will be discussed with the various interests concerned with the aim of implementing them before the end of the summer. I shall keep the matter under review.