Welfare Foods

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th April 1959.

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Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South 12:00 am, 27th April 1959

asked the Minister of Health to what extent there has been a decline in Coventry recently in the uptake of welfare foods, particularly orange juice and cod liver oil; and if he will give the figures of the uptake of these two for the periods 1950 to 1954, and since 1955, in Coventry.

Photo of Mr Richard Thompson Mr Richard Thompson , Croydon South

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT such figures as are readily available.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

Could the hon. Gentleman tell me whether there has been any decrease in Coventry and, if there has, whether it is lesser or bigger than that in any other industrial cities? In general, has such a decrease affected the health of young children? What does the Ministry propose to do about it?

Photo of Mr Richard Thompson Mr Richard Thompson , Croydon South

So far as I am aware, it has not affected the health of young children. I have no figures relating solely to other industrial cities, but looking at the national picture as a whole, on average, it is about the same: some increase in take-up of orange juice, some fall in cod liver oil.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Warrington

Does the hon. Gentleman recollect that last week, when there were a number of similar Questions on the Paper, I asked him what advice his scientific advisers had given him on this question of the decrease in consumption of welfare foods and that he was then unable to answer the question? Can he answer it today?

Photo of Mr Richard Thompson Mr Richard Thompson , Croydon South

My recollection of the matter is that I answered it at the time by saying that the question of the possible late appearance of deficiency characteristics in children was a matter which my scientific advisers had certainly taken into account as well as the right hon. Lady's. and that they considered that, on balance, the advice which they gave us, which was scientific advice, was correct.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Warrington

I ask the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister to answer this question. A number of hon. Members on both sides of the House have put down Questions asking about the decrease in the consumption of orange juice and cod liver oil. I want to be fair in this matter, because there is a thought in my mind of a report on the over-consumption of orange juice. Therefore, I am asking the Parliamentary Secretary, for his sake and his Department's sake, as well as that of hon. Members, to tell us precisely what is the view of his scientific advisers with regard to the decrease in consumption. There is a scientific aspect to this matter. Will he tell the House?

Photo of Mr Richard Thompson Mr Richard Thompson , Croydon South

I had hoped I had answered that. The point is this. There has not been a decrease in take-up of orange juice amongst those classes of children still entitled to take it up. There has been some decrease in take-up of cod liver oil, and this is largely associated with the fact that the recommendation now is that children should take it by the drop and not by the spoonful.

Following are the figures:

ISSUES OF WELFARE ORANGE JUICE AND COD LIVER OIL IN COVENTRY
PeriodOrange Juice (bottles)Cod Liver Oil (bottles)
(In thousands)(In thousands)
1950–54Comparable figures not available
195520731
195622829
195724525
1958167 (a)17 (b)

(a) From 1st November, 1957, entitlement to orange juice was withdrawn from children over two years of age, except for tokens already issued.

(b) In July, 1957, the Report of the Advisory Committee on Welfare Foods was published recommending that infants taking National Dried Milk should receive drop doses instead of teaspoonfuls of cod liver oil.