Food: Polluted Whale and Dolphin Meat

House of Lords written question – answered on 9th October 2006.

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Photo of Lord Ashcroft Lord Ashcroft Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the effects to human health of consuming polluted whale and dolphin products, especially in children or women that are pregnant or breastfeeding..

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Minister of State (Sustainable Farming and Food), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Sustainable Farming and Food), The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

Her Majesty's Government have made no assessment of the effects to human health of consuming polluted whale and dolphin products. Nevertheless, we are aware that the presence of organochlorines (such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and dioxin) and heavy metals (such as methylmercury) in whales have led to several Japanese and other international toxicologists voicing concerns about the health risks associated with eating contaminated whale meat.

It is widely known that north Atlantic minke whales caught by Norway have such high levels of PCBs in their blubber that, under Japanese law, it would be illegal for Japan to import and sell them for human consumption.

Norway's Food Safety Authority and Iceland's Directorate of Health have advised pregnant and nursing women to reduce, or stop eating whale meat because of high levels of contaminants.

The negative effects on human health through consumption of cetacean products is an emerging issue that the UK believes the International Whaling Commission is wholly competent to address.

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