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Lord Donoughue: The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has been responsible for these matters since April 1995 on the creation of the Meat Hygiene Service. Prosecutions are initiated by the Ministry's Legal Department and, except in any case of exceptional public interest, it is they who will take the
Lord Donoughue: The precise arrangements will be a matter for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board once it has been appointed. It is envisaged, however, that the board of the FSA will establish a sub-committee with external members to supervise the MHS. Under this arrangement, those responsible in the FSA for the audit of the MHS would report direct to the sub-committee. In addition, the State Veterinary Service of MAFF (SRM controls), the National Audit Office, (finance and accounts), the British Standards Institution (quality standards) and inspectors of the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (implementation of Community law) will all continue their independent audits of those elements of the MHS activities in which they have an interest.
Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) staff carry out ante-mortem inspection of all animals prior to slaughter. Only clean animals that meet the criteria specified in the MHS's Clean Livestock Policy are allowed to proceed to slaughter for human consumption.
Lord Donoughue: The precise arrangements will be a matter for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board once it has been appointed. It is envisaged, however, that the Board of the FSA will establish a sub-committee with external members to supervise the MHS. Under this arrangement, those responsible in the FSA for the audit of the MHS would report direct to the sub-committee. In addition, the State Veterinary Service
Lord Donoughue: Directive 96/43/EC, on the financing of veterinary inspections and controls on live animals and certain animal products, obliges member states to recover from the industry affected, all the costs incurred in carrying out the residues surveillance work. However, the directive also specifies minimum charge rates and member states are not permitted to fix a rate below the relevant minimum charge.
In the case of poultry the charge is set at the minimum allowed by Directive 96/43/EC. However, the income raised by setting the charge at the EU minimum exceeds the cost of the surveillance programme in this sector, currently by some 35 per cent., following the appreciation of sterling, which has the effect of reducing the minimum charge expressed in national currency.
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate is aware of the industry's concerns over the charges and has discussed with the poultry industry the possibility of securing a reduction in the minimum charge. This issue is being taken forward with Commission officials.
Lord Donoughue: Senior Meat Hygiene Inspectors (SMHIs) and Meat Hygiene Inspectors (MHIs) are required under Directive 64/433/EEC, as amended, to undertake a minimum of 200 hours' practical training under the supervision of an Official Veterinary Surgeon (OVS). The major part of this training will be in the post-mortem inspection of animals.
Lord Donoughue: Senior Meat Hygiene Inspectors (SMHIs) and Meat Hygiene Inspectors (MHIs) are required under Directive 64/433/EEC, as amended, to undertake a minimum of 200 hours' practical training under the supervision of an Official Veterinary Surgeon
Lord Donoughue: We are not aware of any studies either past or planned for the future which are looking at this aspect. There is no evidence to support a link between meat or milk from animals treated with hormones and overweight.
The European Commission has agreed on research projects which are looking at specific human health aspects connected with hormonal growth promoters as part of a risk assessment. They deal with mutagenicity, genotoxicity, fertility and cancers, particularly prostate and breast cancers. Although some are looking more generally at "potential risks to human health", the Commission has confirmed that these do not include obesity.
Lord Donoughue: Information available as at 15 April 1999 showed there were 4,627 recorded varroa infested apiaries in England and Wales, and 16 in Scotland. Northern Ireland currently remains free from varroa.
A training programme to assist beekeepers to deal with statutory diseases and improve husbandry, including varroa diagnosis and control, is conducted by the Central Science Laboratory's (CSL) National Bee Unit (NBU) in England and Wales. CSL inspectors also provide advice to beekeepers, during statutory apiary inspection programmes, on routine control for varroosis. Similar arrangements apply in Scotland provided by the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA) and in Northern Ireland provided by the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland.
In conjunction with these programmes, two advisory leaflets have been produced; "Varroosis--a parasitic infestation of honey bees" and "Varroa jacobsoni: monitoring & forecasting mite populations within honey
MAFF, on behalf of UK Agriculture Departments, is continuing to fund research into combating varroa, examining the possibilities of biological control of the varroa mite and the interaction between bee viruses and the varroa mite.
With effect from 1 July 1999, questions relating to bee health matters in Scotland and Wales became the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly respectively.
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