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Bushmeat

Volume 400: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Food Standards Agency is taking on the risks posed by toxins in illegally imported bushmeat. [97708]

The Food Standards Agency has advised local authorities that all illegally imported food products, including bush meat, should be removed from sale. This is because these products have evaded official controls designed to verify compliance with food safety standards and could pose a danger to human health. The Agency is also working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise to inform the targeting of enforcement work to detect illegal imports.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the potential health risks from toxins in illegally imported bushmeat. [977091

I am advised by the Food Standards Agency, which has responsibility for food safety matters, that it has received representations about potential public health risks from illegally imported meat, including bush meat. Illegally imported food has evaded official controls designed to verify compliance with food safety standards and therefore poses a potential danger to human health. Such food is destroyed without undue delay and without the requirement for laboratory examination to identify toxins, micro-organisms or other contamination dangerous to human health.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has made to other Government Departments about the level of policing at ports of entry relating to the smuggling of bushmeat. [97755]

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which has responsibility for food safety matters, is in frequent contact with other Government Departments, in particular the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, about controls on the illegal import of meat.Further to a study by the Cabinet Office last year, co-ordination arrangements between the FSA, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise and DEFRA are being strengthened to achieve a step-change improvement in controls on the illegal import of meat. DEFRA is running a six month pilot study into the use of dogs for detecting illegally imported foodstuffs, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise is taking the lead responsibility for detection of smuggled imports of meat, and the FSA is putting in place arrangements with port health and local authorities to improve inspection arrangements for legitimate imports.

The Organisation of the Government's Controls of Imports of Animals, Fish, Plants and their Products' is published on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinet-office.qov.uk/reports/pdf/Illegal%20Imports%20paper.pdf

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the level of toxins in illegally imported bushmeat. [97756]

The Food Standards Agency, which has responsibility for food safety matters, has advised that information is not available on the level of toxins in illegally imported bush meat. All illegally imported food has evaded official controls designed to verify compliance with food safety standards and could pose a danger to human health. Such food may therefore be destroyed by local authorities without the need for sampling to detect micro-organisms, toxins or other contamination.