asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the factors responsible for the rise, spread and increase in salmonella typhimurium infection; what are the reasons for the rise in drug resistance in these organisms; whether he is aware of the potential risk of infection from these organisms in man; and if he will make a statement.
I have no precise information to show whether this infection in animals is increasing or that veterinary use of antibiotics has led to an increase in drug resistance. A Joint Committee of the Agricultural and Medical Research Councils has been considering some aspects of this problem and its report is awaited. My right hon. Friend's Scientific Advisory Panel is also reviewing the use of antibiotics in food and agriculture.
Is the Minister aware that six people in this country died of salmonella typhimurium infection during the last six months? Is he further aware that the source of most of this infection is in Essex? Will he not have discussions with the Minister of Health to see whether action should not be taken, because it has definitely been proved that the use of drugs in calves is setting up a serious resistance within human beings?
I doubt the hon. Member's last statement that it has been proved that these drugs have set up this resistance. We recognise, however, the problem of salmonella infections, of which, as I take it the hon. Member knows, there are simply hundreds, including this one. We are looking at the matter carefully and the eminent committees which I have mentioned are looking into the position seriously.