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Food Safety

Volume 175: debated on Thursday 28 June 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what weight he gives to scientific research in determining the development of his Department's approach towards food safety.

All the Government's measures towards greater food safety are based on the best available expert scientific advice, as we made clear in the White Paper "Food Safety—Protecting the Consumer". In addition to professional advice available within my Ministry and other Government Departments, objective, independent advice is provided by a number of committees including the Food Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee on Pesticides, the Veterinary Products Committee, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment and the steering group on food surveillance—which works through 10 working parties each of which carries out detailed work in specialist fields. We announced on 12 June that we shall be adding to these committees by creating a new advisory committee and a steering group on the microbiological safety of food, a development recommended by the Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food chaired by Sir Mark Richmond.The full scope of the extensive research and development programme on food safety can be gauged from the "Food Sense" booklet on the Government's food surveillance programme, issued at the beginning of this year. There are now 28 food surveillance papers available and the most recent, on "Programmes to Monitor Radioactivity in Food", contains some 48 pages setting out the major programme in this one area alone. A further paper in this series is to be issued shortly. Besides the Government laboratories involved, industry, research associations, academic institutions, consultants and professional organisations all contribute to the work on food surveillance. In addition to its role in providing advice to the Government and the basis it provides for effective legislative control and the harmonisation of trade in food and food raw materials, the programme is also becoming increasingly recognised at an international level as an important source of information and advice.