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Unpasteurised Milk

Volume 301: debated on Friday 21 November 1997

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many people were medically affected as the result of drinking unpasteurised milk in each of the last five years. [17282]

Information is not routinely collected on individual cases of illness.Raw cows' drinking milk has been shown by surveillance studies to contain pathogens, and some data are available on illnesses associated with particular foods following outbreaks of food poisoning.The Public Health Laboratory Service has published data in 'General outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease associated with milk and dairy products in England and Wales between 1992 and 1996'. This can be found in the 'Communicable Disease Report', Volume 7, Review number 3 dated 7 March 1997.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the powers available to him to ban the use of unpasteurised milk in England and Wales. [17284]

Section 16 (1) (f) of the Food Safety Act 1990 empowers Ministers to make regulations prohibiting the sale of food where it appears necessary or expedient to them in the interests of the public health or to protect or promote the interests of consumers.In accordance with established procedure, any proposal to proceed with a ban, e.g. on the sale in England and Wales of raw cows' milk for drinking, would need to be notified under the Technical Standards Directive (83/189/EEC), to give the European Commission and the other member states the opportunity to express a view.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish the concerns expressed to him by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food about the microbiological quality of unpasteurised cows' milk for drinking. [17283]

The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food has considered reports of two surveys on the microbiological status of raw cows' milk for drinking. The Committee was very concerned to note that these surveys showed that raw cows' drinking milk contained significant amounts of faecal contamination indicator micro-organisms as well as, in some cases, food poisoning pathogens. These concerns were publicised in the press release of the Committee's 18 September meeting, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.