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Chicken (Beef Protein)

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on hospitals to which chicken adulterated with beef protein has been supplied. [116852]

None of the chickens on the national contract negotiated by the NHS Purchasing and Supply was supplied by those companies identified by the Food Standards Agency as supplying products adulterated by pork or beef DNA.As a condition of the contract, suppliers agree to be independently audited. Quality assurance inspectors from the Meat and Livestock Commission make unannounced visits to suppliers' premises, inspect the products destined for the national health service and verify the chemical content in comparison with specifications laid out in the contract. The analysis also identifies water content and the DNA present. There have been no reports of pork or beef DNA being found in any sample.As an additional safeguard, if the inspectors find any implicated brand on a supplier's premises, suppliers are now required to provide evidence that the product is not going to be supplied to the national health service.Information about whether NHS trusts have purchased chickens from sources other than those suppliers on national contract is not available centrally.