Problem communicating with remote server...
Previous Section Index Home Page

21 Mar 2006 : Column 257W—continued

Departmental Staff

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many jobs from her Department have been relocated to Wales since 2001. [58502]

Mr. Byrne: No jobs from the Department have been relocated to Wales since 2001.

Drug and Alcohol Misuse

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time is for treatment for alcohol misuse in each primary care trust area in the South East Region; and if she will make a statement. [58365]

Caroline Flint: This information is not held centrally.

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress her Department is making towards reducing average waiting times for treatment for alcohol misuse. [58366]

Caroline Flint: Taken from alcohol needs assessment research project (ANARP), the average waiting time for assessment was 4.6 weeks. The shortest average wait for a region was 3.3 weeks and the longest wait was 6.5weeks. The programme of improvement guidance and models of care for alcohol misuse are to follow.

ECJ Ruling 2006/C 36/16 OJ

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the likely effect of
 
21 Mar 2006 : Column 258W
 
European Court of Justice ruling 2006/C 36/16, OJ 11 February 2006, upon UK businesses; and if she will make a statement. [59809]

Caroline Flint: The United Kingdom Government supports the food safety measures contained in the Smoke Flavourings Regulation (EC 2065/2003/EC) and these remain in place following the judgement. A regulatory impact assessment was carried out on the impact of this regulation on UK businesses.

No assessment has been made of the likely effect of the ruling from the European Court of Justice on UK businesses. The legal challenge was based entirely on the appropriateness of the legal base of the regulation.

Food Allergies

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has been made available for research into food allergies and prevention measures in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [58540]

Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) funds a large research programme on food intolerance and allergy. The aims of the programme are to provide information that will be useful for the development of policy and scientific advice in this area and to look at methods for the identification, assessment and monitoring of allergens in foodstuffs.

Over the past five financial years the FSA has spent the following on research into food allergies and intolerance:
Financial yearSpend on research (£)
2004–05887,285.52
2003–04838,715.05
2002–03987,585.33
2001–021,647,383.34
2000–011,987,656.60

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the system of allergy warnings for food items; what representations she has received on the system; and if she will make a statement. [58542]


 
21 Mar 2006 : Column 259W
 

Caroline Flint: The Food Labelling (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/2824) which came into force on 26 November 2004 established a list of 12 foods that have to be indicated by reference to the source allergen whenever they, or their derived ingredients, are used in pre-packed foods. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has made no assessment of the effectiveness of the legislation.

Research carried out by the FSA in 2001 and 2002 showed that many consumers did not like the then current system of advisory labelling, often called may contain labelling. Consumers considered that the warnings were overused, that the variety of phrases used was confusing and that the warnings were hard to find and/or read.

Consequently the FSA has set up a multi-stakeholder drafting group to produce best practice guidelines on when it is appropriate to use such labelling. Following a public consultation last year, the guidelines are being amended and are due to be published soon.

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking towards implementing an improved system of warnings for consumers who have allergies to (a) peanuts and (b) milk products; and if she will make a statement. [58543]

Caroline Flint: The Food Labelling (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/2824) which came into force on 26 November 2004 established a list of 12 foods that have to be indicated by reference to the source allergen whenever they, or their derived ingredients, are used in pre-packed foods, whatever the level of use. This list includes peanuts and milk.

In addition to the above, the Food Standards Agency, with the aid of stakeholders, is currently drafting two sets of voluntary guidance for industry. The first is on the handling and labelling of pre-packed foods for accidental allergen cross-contamination (so called 'may contain' labelling) and the second is on the provision of allergen information for foods sold non-prepacked. Both sets of guidance include all 12 of the listed allergens.

Food Labelling

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) regulatory regime and (b) labelling requirements apply to the compatibility of mineral supplements for flour with vegetarian dietary requirements. [60255]

Caroline Flint: The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 require the addition of calcium carbonate, iron, thiamin and nicotinic acid (or nicotinamide) to wheat flour other than wholemeal. The regulations do not specify any particular sources from which these substances must come. Further, the addition of these substances does not need to be indicated on the label.

If a claim is made that any food is suitable for vegetarians or vegans, then all the ingredients should be from appropriate sources. The Food Standards Agency will shortly issue guidance on the use of these terms in food labelling.
 
21 Mar 2006 : Column 260W
 

Food Supplements Directive

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when she expects the European Commission to consult member states about the setting of maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements under the provisions of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive; and what her objectives are for the outcome of the process; [57495]

(2) what steps she plans to take towards achieving her objectives in the EU in relation to the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements under the provisions of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive; when she last discussed these issues with (a) officials of the European Commission and (b) representatives of other member states; and what the outcome was of those meetings; [57496]

(3) when she next expects to meet representatives of consumers to discuss her strategy for achieving her objectives for the interpretation of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive; [57497]

(4) what further steps she plans to take to secure the continued presence on the market beyond 2009 of food supplements containing nutrients and nutrient sources which are not included in the list of permitted ingredients set out in the annexes to the Food Supplements Directive; and if she will make a statement; [57498]

(5) what assessment she has made of the implications for the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements of (a) recent developments in the establishment of international standards for such levels by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and (b) the recent report of the World Health Organisation Workshop held in Geneva on these issues; [57499]

(6) what assessment she has made of the implications for the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements under the provisions of the Food Supplements Directive of the outcome of the recent World Trade Organisation case in relation to barriers to trade in genetically modified organisms. [57501]

Caroline Flint: The European Commission has indicated that it will bring forward discussion documents in spring 2006 to consult member states about the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements. The board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has considered this issue and proposed a two-tier approach with the use of advisory labelling statements where levels exceed those based on a scientific risk assessment. The objective is for this approach to be promoted in meetings with the European Commission and member states and in discussions on future documents from the Commission for meetings with stakeholders.

Letters have been written to health Ministers in all member states and relevant members of the European Parliament informing them of the approach agreed by the FSA Board. Departmental officials last discussed these issues with the European Commission on 3 March. FSA officials met with officials at the Ministry for Health in the Netherlands on 7 March. Both meetings
 
21 Mar 2006 : Column 261W
 
provided an opportunity for an exchange of views on the United Kingdom's position for setting maximum safe levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements.

Meetings were held with the organisation, Consumers for Health Choice on 15 March and with Which? on 16 March.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will be carrying out the assessment of the dossiers submitted in accordance with the food supplements directive, and is prioritising dossiers for assessment. It is the responsibility of companies who have submitted the dossiers to provide additional information to EFSA. Until EFSA begins its assessment it is unclear as to what the impact on the market beyond 2009 will be. We are continuing to explore with the Commission what further flexibility may be available in the directive after 2009.

Both initiatives by CODEX and the recent report from the World Health Organisation take into account the need for maximum levels to be set based on scientific risk assessment, and this approach underlies the approach proposed by the FSA. A formal assessment of the implications for setting maximum safe levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements following these publications has not been made.

The final outcome of this case from the World Trade Organisation has yet to be published. An assessment of the implications for the setting of maximum levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements following the interim report case in relation to barriers to trade in genetically modified organisms has not therefore been made.


Next Section Index Home Page