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Lord HolmPatrick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: No. It is not possible to provide complete pest-proofing between the lairage and slaughterhall.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: No.

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: In the period April 1998 to March 1999 the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office carried out two inspection visits (June 1998 and September 1998) to the United Kingdom on controls in fresh (red) meat establishments under Directive 64/433/EEC.

25 Jun 1999 : Column WA120

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following inspections of abattoirs by European Union Commission officials from the Food and Veterinary Office, slaughterhouse owners and operators are entitled to see copies of any reports made in respect of their premises.[HL3019]

Lord Donoughue: Yes. In any event, the management at each premises visited by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) are informed at the time of the inspection of any observations the FVO inspectors may have.

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether slaughterhouse owners and operators should be able to rely upon their official veterinary surgeons to provide advice on compliance with the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 and other regulations which apply to their premises; and[HL3017]

    Whether they will define the term "advice" where it relates to official veterinary surgeons and their relationship with slaughterhouse owners and operators; and whether that definition encompasses more than the identification of non-compliance with relevant regulations.[HL3018]

Lord Donoughue: Official veterinary surgeons of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) have a responsibility to take fair and effective enforcement action in order to obtain compliance in licensed meat plants with the legislation for which the MHS is the enforcement authority. In line with the MHS hierarchy of enforcement, such action may include the provision of informal advice (written and verbal) to slaughterhouse owners and operators on both statutory requirements and best practice.

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many requests for information on the interpretation of EC Directive 91/497/EEC were made by officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Meat Hygiene Service to the European Union Commission in the last financial year.[HL3015]

Lord Donoughue: Two. The first related to the frequency of veterinary supervision required for licensed cold stores and the second to the level and frequency of supervision required for low throughput (permanently derogated) slaughterhouses and cutting plants.

Official Veterinary Surgeons: Qualifications

Viscount Long asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many representations they have received from the British Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as to the qualifications of official veterinarians.[HL3036]

Lord Donoughue: None.

25 Jun 1999 : Column WA121

Lord Addington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether inexperienced veterinary surgeons of non-British training, when acting as Official Veterinary Surgeons, can provide better protection for the consumer than experienced environmental health officers or senior meat inspectors with or without additional qualifications, when acting in the capacity of official veterinarians.[HL3031]

Lord Donoughue: Yes. The training which all EU veterinary surgeons are required to undertake provides the skills necessary to diagnose, at ante-mortem inspection, diseases of public health significance, such as BSE. (Environmental Health Officers and senior meat inspectors do not receive such training.)

Meat Hygiene Service: Performance Audit

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What specific qualifications and experience in law enforcement are required of veterinary officers auditing Meat Hygiene Service performance in meat or cutting plants; and how their competence is assessed.[HL2966]

Lord Donoughue: The performance of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) in licensed premises is audited by Veterinary Meat Hygiene Advisers (VMHAs). As auditors, VMHAs do not have a direct role in enforcement but audit the MHS's enforcement of the relevant regulations as set out in the MHS operations manual. The auditors are experienced in the field of veterinary public health and meat hygiene, have detailed knowledge of the relevant legislation and the MHS operations manual, and are trained auditors.

Meat Hygiene Service: Operations Manual

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider publishing the Meat Hygiene Service's operations manual in electronic format, available on computer disc; and whether they will also publish the same on the Internet, preferably in Microsoft Word and PDF formats. [HL3094]

25 Jun 1999 : Column WA122

Lord Donoughue: If there were sufficient demand, the Government would consider publishing the Meat Hygiene Service operations manual in electronic format. Placing it on the Internet may be preferable to making it available on disc, as the manual is frequently amended and updated.


Baroness Serota asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the use of lindane as a pesticide.[HL3184]

Lord Donoughue: The Government have noted the concerns raised about this compound and the assessment made by the Austrian authorities under the EU review of agricultural pesticides. The Government therefore asked the independent experts of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides to examine all the issues which have been raised.

The committee advised that lindane does not pose an unacceptable risk to consumers but that the exposure of operators using lindane to treat seed was above acceptable levels. Ministers have therefore decided that the use of lindane as a seed treatment should cease immediately and that further conditions should be applied to some other agricultural and non-agricultural uses. Companies have until 28 June to make representations on the action proposed.

The committee advised that more data are needed on the environmental effects of lindane. This point will be pursued as a priority.

Poultry Meat Directive

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the European Commission has ruled to clarify the issue of derogation in the poultry meat directive.[HL3055]

Lord Donoughue: We are in dialogue with the European Commission on a number of meat hygiene issues, including the interpretation of part of the poultry meat directive. An announcement on any clarification of the meaning of the directive will be made at the appropriate time.

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