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Nitrate In Vegetables: Ec Legislation

Volume 570: debated on Thursday 21 March 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to Lord Lucas's Written Answer of 8th March (H.L. Deb. col.

W4 40), what are the proposals which the United Kingdom has agreed to support in the European Commission's document VI/3080/93 Rev 7, and what will be the effect of these proposals on the British lettuce growers.

The European Commission's document VI/3080/93 Rev 7 is the latest version of a European Commission proposal to introduce limits for nitrate in lettuce and spinach. Earlier versions of this proposal were considered unacceptable because the proposed limits were unachievable in the UK owing to our climate. However, the main provisions of the most recent draft are more realistic and achievable, with limits of 3,500 mg/kg and 4,500 mg/kg for glasshouse-grown lettuce in summer and winter respectively, and 2,500 mg/kg for lettuce grown outdoors during the summer. It also allows member states to take advantage of a derogation which exempts crops produced for the domestic market from these limits for a transitional period. The main effect of this proposal will be to encourage all British lettuce growers to follow good agricultural practice.