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Miss Melanie Johnson: Nutrition is a key component of a healthy start in life and schools, alongside parents and carers, have a role in shaping the habits and eating behaviours of children. As set out in the Government White Paper, Choosing Health: Making healthier choices easier", we want to see all schools deliver clear and consistent messages about nutrition and healthy eating, provide opportunities to learn about diet, nutrition, food safety and hygiene, good preparation and cooking as well as where food comes from and actively promote healthy food as part of an enjoyable balanced diet. This message is supported by a number of activities and White Paper commitments regarding nutrition in schools, including:
Funding of £77 million is being provided over 200406 to enable over two million children (all four to six-year-old children in local education authority- maintained infant, primary and special schools throughout England) to receive a free piece of fruit or vegetable every school day.
The Government aim is that half of all schools will be part of the healthy schools programme by 2006, with the rest working towards healthy school status by 2009. From April 2005, a healthy school will provide a supportive environment, including policies on healthy and nutritious food.
Revising both primary and secondary school meal standards to reduce consumption of fat, salt and sugar and increase consumption of fruit and vegetables. We will strongly consider introducing nutrient based standards.
Mr. Hutton: As with other Government Departments, this Department has been working closely with the Home Office to identify where the identity cards scheme will provide benefits to its business areas. This work is continuing.
Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what policies his Department has to ensure the safety of imported foodstuffs; and what guidance his Department has given to (a) other Government Departments and (b) associated public bodies on dealing with these matters. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency, which has responsibility for food safety matters, that the regulatory controls in respect of imports from non-European Union countries are comprehensive, and for the most part are EU based and operate EU wide. Controls for the import of products not of animal origin will be EU harmonised from January 2006.
Imported food from non-EU countries is subject to checks at ports of entry by local authorities under imported food legislation. Also, food products, whether from outside or within the EU, are subject to the same checks by local authorities as United Kingdom produced food.
The Agency works closely with a number of other Government departments on imported food enforcement matters. Statutory guidance on imported food was issued by the Agency to local authorities in June 2004. A copy of the guidance Guidance for local authorities in Great Britain on imported food and feed" controls has been placed in the Library.
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 10 January 2005]: Specific training programmes will be determined and implemented locally according to the requirements of the staff and the local area. This information is not collected centrally but recommendations on training are included in the guidelines on Prevention of healthcareassociated infections in primary and community care produced by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.
In addition, all staff covered by Agenda for Change will receive infection control training. This will cover over one million staff and incorporate nurses, porters, cleaners and healthcare assistants working in all healthcare settings, including primary and community care.
Mr. Hutton: The Department does not provide direction on the content of undergraduate medical courses, as higher education institutions (HEIs) are autonomous bodies. Individual medical schools determine their own curriculum in the light of recommendations from the General Medical Council's (GMC's) education committee.
We do not hold data on practice placements and have no plans to commission specific research. However, we do share a commitment with the GMC, the Council of Heads of Medical Schools and other relevant bodies that all health professionals are trained so that they have the skills and knowledge to deliver a high quality health service to all groups of the population with whom they deal. I am aware of the British Medical Association's recent publication, Healthcare in a rural setting", which recommends a greater accent on placements in such settings. I will draw this report to the attention of the relevant bodies.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1)for what percentage of people with multiple sclerosis the timeframe laid down in the National Institute for Clinical Excellence Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) of 12 weeks between general practitioner referral and completion of investigations was met in the last period for which figures are available; 
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(2) what the average waiting time for an NHS patient suspected of having multiple sclerosis from referral by their general practitioner to completion of tests was in the last period for which figures are available; 
Dr. Ladyman: Although the Department does not routinely collect information on the number of people diagnosed with a specific condition, the MS Society estimates that there are approximately 85,000 people in the United Kingdom with multiple sclerosis.
Data on the number of people investigated for a possible diagnosis of multiple sclerosis are not available. However, figures are available on the number of finished consultant episodes with a primary diagnosis of multiple sclerosis for the years 19992000 to 200203 and are shown in the table. A finished consultant episode relates to in-patients who have completed their period of care and have been discharged, transferred to another hospital or consultant specialist or died. A patient can therefore have more than one finished consultant episode.
|Finished in-year admissions|
Information on waiting times for in-patient and out-patient treatment in England is collected by consultant speciality rather than for specific conditions. Specialty level data for neurology would include various conditions, as well as multiple sclerosis, therefore it is not possible to determine the waiting times for multiple sclerosis.
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