Ultra-heat Treated Milk

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Devon West 12:00 am, 17th March 1983

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether it is possible to sample ultra-heat treated milk at ports to obtain information on the quality and standard of the original milk; and whether this sampling could be done at the dairy.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Sampling of ultra-heat treated milk at the ports does not provide full information as to the quality and standard of the original milk, which is no doubt why the European Court envisaged that the United Kingdom should set objective standards for the quality of the milk before treatment. We are pursuing these questions in discussion with the Commission.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Devon West

Surely, my right hon. Friend agrees that imported UHT milk could contain antibiotics, straw, manure, and other unpleasant things, even though sterilised? Does he accept that the point of testing should be on the farm, where the milk can be discarded?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Yes, Sir. That is why we are having discussions with the Commission to see that the same hygiene standards apply to European producers as apply in this country.

Mr. Mark Hughes:

Does the Minister accept that to disadvantage British farmers by allowing UHT to come in from farm premises with significantly lower standards of hygiene than we demand is wholly unacceptable?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Yes, Sir. That is why we are negotiating to have the same standards of hygiene in Europe as here.

Photo of Mr Thomas Torney Mr Thomas Torney , Bradford South

Is the Minister aware that there is great fear in the dairy trade generally and among the mass of workers in the industry about their jobs because of the importation of UHT milk? Will he say what plans he has for the future, when undoubtedly the EEC will make a determined attempt to get French UHT into the country? Will he tell us what he proposes to do in the future, or will he make a statement to the House at an early date?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

If UHT milk in Europe has to comply with the same hygiene regulations as are required here, there is no way in which it will undermine our market. At present, UHT milk in France is selling in Paris at 19 to 19½p, compared with fresh milk on the doorstep here at 21p. There is no way in which that could compete with or undermine the doorstep delivery service in this country.