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Dairy Products

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under what legislation the milk and dairy products industry has been regulated since 1997; what estimate he has made of the number of breaches of such regulations in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) region and (b) legislative instrument; and if he will make a statement. (96788)

I have been asked to reply.

I have assumed that the references to regulations relate to the food hygiene legislation applicable to milk and dairy products establishments. Beyond hygiene, milk and dairy products are, as with other foods, required to be compliant with general food law and legislation including labelling, contaminants, additives and composition. Information relating to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved administrations.

I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that between 1997 and 31 December 2005 the hygiene legislation under which milk and dairy products establishments were regulated in England was the Dairy Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1995 (as amended) and the Milk and Dairies (General) Regulations 1959 (as amended). On 1 January 2006, new and directly applicable EC food hygiene legislation came into effect which superseded this legislation (Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 and Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004).

The Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate (DHI) is part of the State Veterinary Service (an executive agency of DEFRA) and acts on behalf of the agency in administering and enforcing the hygiene legislation at registered milk production holdings prior to processing such as pasteurisation, bottling or the manufacture of dairy products. Local authorities enforce the regulations in establishments undertaking activities in relation to milk beyond the remit of the DHI and the remainder of the dairy industry.

The Agency has obtained information from the DHI relating to inspections of registered milk production holdings carried out in England during the period requested, which is set out in the table. I am advised that information is not collected in such a way that allows it to be presented by region.

Inspections carried out by the Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate in England, 1996-97 to 2005-06.

Number of inspections

Dairy hygiene inspectorate costs

Number of final notices of intention to cancel registration issued

1996-97

11,948

955,413

73

1997-98

12,198

1,128,188

51

1998-99

10,002

940,188

60

1999-2000

10,048

900,332

63

2000-011

8,812

828,328

120

2001-021

4,214

339,570

80

2002-03

13,472

1,293,312

164

2003-04

13,543

1,299,072

170

2004-05

13,324

1,330,972

178

2005-06

13,119

1,338,138

142

1 2000-01 and 2001-02 figures are reduced due to the suspension of inspections during the foot and mouth outbreak.

Source:

Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate

Given the remit of the DHI, the final notices to which reference is made in the table will have been issued due to breaches of the hygiene legislation. The agency was advised that the DHI does not collect other information on breaches centrally.

Information on local authority food law enforcement, including breaches resulting in formal enforcement action, is collected by the agency under monitoring arrangements to satisfy European requirements. However, this does not provide the level of detail required for information on milk and dairy products nor does the agency collect information on the costs of these activities.

There are currently approximately 1,100 approved dairy products establishments in England which are required to be inspected in accordance with the statutory Food Law Code of Practice at a minimum frequency of six months.