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21 Nov 2002 : Column 291W—continued

Flood Plains

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration has been given by the Environment Agency to identifying and preparing suitable areas of flood plains, adjacent to non-tidal reaches of rivers, for use as emergency wash-lands to minimise peak heights of floods occasioned by increases in the proportion of direct run-off as a result of changes in the amount and nature of precipitation. [80517]

Mr. Morley: Following the autumn 2000 floods the agency has been investigating solutions for the 700 affected locations. We consider whether it will be more appropriate to provide additional discharge capacity or to temporarily store excess water.

The agency carries out the option with the best return, taking into account the technical, environmental and economic aspects. In some cases the preferred option will involve the creation of flood storage areas which are purpose built reservoirs.

The agency ensures that the natural floodplain is utilised as much as possible during times of floods and seeks to prevent the location of inappropriate development in the floodplain.

The agency is planning to complete catchment flood management plans for the whole of England and Wales over the next five to six years. These will consider the impact of future development, land use changes and climate change and will explore the use of wetlands, washlands and flood storage areas in reducing flood risk to local communities.

Functional Foods

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations are in place to ensure that new functional foods claiming to improve mental and physical well-being are covered by a legal framework. [81059]

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Ms Blears: There are no specific regulations in place to control the use of claims for improving mental and physical well-being made on 'functional' foods. Claims on foods are controlled by provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, which prohibit false and misleading claims. In addition, the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended) lay down general labelling requirements for foods and prohibit medical claims i.e. claims that a food will prevent, treat or cure a disease.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what has been done in the past two years to promote scientific research into (a) the claims of functional foods and (b) their safety. [81060]

Ms Blears: I have been asked to reply.

The Government has not taken any specific steps to promote scientific research into the claims made for Xfunctional foods" or their safety. XFunctional foods", like other foods, must comply with the provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990, the Food Labelling Regulations (1969) as amended and the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) supports the activities of the self-regulatory joint health claims initiative that has established a voluntary system for the scientific substantiation of health claims. The FSA also commissions a broad spectrum of research and surveys on nutrition and food safety, details of which are available through the agency's website.

GM Technology

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how she plans to assess public opinion regarding GM technology and commercialisation, [81226]

Mr. Meacher: The Government is sponsoring a public dialogue on GM technology and this will focus on issues and concerns raised by the public. The outcome of the debate could be invaluable in informing the Government's approach to decision making, and our view of the overall framework in which decisions are taken. We will listen, and learn, from the views emerging from the debate.

Imported Offal

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many tonnes of (a) sheep, (b) cattle, (c) pig and (d) poultry offal have entered the UK from (i) Latin America, (ii) Africa, (iii) South Asia, (iv) East Asia, (v) North America, (vi) the EU, (vii) non-EU Europe and (viii) Australasia in each of the last 10 years. [81571]

Mr. Morley: The table shows the UK imports of sheep, bovine, pig and poultry offal from (i) Latin America (ii) Africa (iii) South Asia (iv) East Asia (v) North America (vi). The EU (vii) non-EU Europe and (viii) Australasia between 1992–2001, as recorded in the Official Overseas Trade Statistics.

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Type of offal1992199319941995199619971998199920002001
East Asia
Latin America
Non-EU Europe
North America
South Asia
Grand Total74,18066,03963,88965,24651,12353,86146,49149,53159,47957,523


HM Customs and Excise

Data prepared by Statistics (Commodities and Food) Accounts and Trade, ESD, DEFRA

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Mobile Slaughtermen

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy is towards the practice of home kills by mobile licensed slaughtermen. [80460]

Ms Blears: I have been asked to reply.

The Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 (as amended) require that no person shall carry on the business of a slaughterhouse unless the premises are licensed under the Regulations. Furthermore the regulations also require that no person shall sell fresh meat for human consumption unless it has been slaughtered in a licensed slaughterhouse.

It is unlawful for a mobile licensed slaughterman to kill and dress an animal outside of licensed premises where it is intended that the meat be used for human consumption. In addition, the slaughterman would further contravene the Regulations as he would be supplying goods—the dressed carcase—and a sale would therefore have taken place.

Poultry Imports

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action her Department has taken to ensure that poultry imports meet the same (a) animal welfare, (b) chemical contact and (c) hygiene standards expected of United Kingdom-produced poultry meat. [81040]

Mr. Morley: The Government has made it clear the importance it attaches to developing and maintaining high welfare standards for all animals both domestically and internationally. We have made clear that trade liberalisation must not compromise EU standards of animal welfare and hygiene. Our concerns are fully reflected on the negotiating proposals that the Commission has submitted in the Doha Development Agenda

All poultry in the European Union must be slaughtered or killed in accordance with the requirements laid down in Council Directive 93/119/EC on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing. This Directive should have been implemented in all Member States by 1 January 1995, and has been implemented in this country by the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (as amended). The Directive contains a requirement that birds imported from third countries must be slaughtered under conditions which offer guarantees of humane treatment at least equivalent to those provided for in the Directive.

In respect of chemical contact where illegal veterinary medicine residues, for example nitrofurans and chloramphenicol, have been detected in imports of poultry meat from third countries there is a requirement under community law to test all consignments at border inspection posts. Consignments are not allowed entry if they are found to contain these chemicals. Nitrofurans and chloramphenicol are not permitted for use in food producing animals in the EU due to public health concerns. Therefore their residues should not be present in food.

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Imports into the United Kingdom of animal products are governed by European community legislation, which contains provisions to protect both animal and public health. Under these rules only third countries approved by the Commission on the advice of the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health may export into the community, and only from establishments which meet community hygiene standards. The lists of countries and establishments allowed to export particular products into the community, are available on the Commission's website at the following address:

Imports of poultry meat from third countries must have been produced to the standards at least equivalent to those laid down in Council Directive 71/118/EEC. In addition, all consignments of fresh poultry meat imported from third countries are subject to veterinary inspection on entering the EU to ensure that conditions of import have been complied with and to ensure that they have remained in a satisfactory condition during transport.

Responsibility for ensuring that third countries meet these requirements lies with the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission . FVO reports are published on their website at: en.html.

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