Contaminated Corned Beef

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st November 1965.

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Photo of Mr George Craddock Mr George Craddock , Bradford South 12:00 am, 1st November 1965

asked the Minister of Health if he will order stocks of corned beef withdrawn from sale last year to be destroyed, so as to eliminate any risk to the general public.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

asked the Minister of Health whether he has reached a decision on the proposal that hitherto suspected canned meat should be re-processed and released by the firms at present holding it and sold for human consumption; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

I refer my hon. Friends to my Answer to the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) on 27th October.

Photo of Mr George Craddock Mr George Craddock , Bradford South

Did that mean that Ministers acted in such a way that the corned beef was destroyed?

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

Two points arise here. The first concerns the tins from the establishment associated by the Committee of Inquiry with the outbreak which it looked into. Those tins have already left the country. The second point is that there are other stocks which are suspect, some held by the Government. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has indicated to the trade that we will not release our stocks. Two major importers have agreed not to release their stocks as well. There are small stocks in private hands, but I have no reason to believe that those importers or traders will act contrary to what has already been done.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

In the reply to the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) on 27th October, my hon. Friend stated that these tins had left the country. What exactly does "left the country" mean? Did they leave by themselves, were they dumped in the river, or were they re-exported?

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

This is the full stock in relation to Establishment No. 1A, and, as far as I know, they were dispatched by the people who held the stocks at that time.

Photo of Lady  Grant of Monymusk Lady Grant of Monymusk , Aberdeen South

Is the Minister absolutely satisfied that by no means, by re-exporting, by firms holding these stocks in this country or in any other way, can they be produced for human consumption? There has been a great deal of concern about it in the City of Aberdeen. We got over the outbreak very satisfactorily, and no one wishes to be reminded of it.

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

I cannot give an absolute guarantee because, as I said, there are stocks in private hands at present, but I can assure the House that, if any firms indicate that they propose to process or reprocess these stocks to make them fit for human consumption, any technique of processing will have to be agreed with my Department, and they will be identifiable afterwards so that the trade and the public can be protected.