§ 61. Mr. Janner
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking in regard to the consignment of tins of Chinese eggs sold in this country and found to contain paratyphoid and food poisoning germs; what other consignments are expected; and what action is being taken when they arrive.
Arrangements have been made with the public health authorities for the destruction of the small number of tins of Chinese frozen egg which were recently found to contain paratyphoid and other food poisoning germs. In addition, special arrangements have been made for the examination of the same type of pack, not only in the remainder of the consignment from which these tins were drawn, but also from all other shipments still in stock here.
All imports of Chinese frozen whole egg are now brought in on private account, but the trade agreed some time ago to notify the Ministry of Health of impending arrivals so that the public health authorities concerned might sample consignments on arrival in this country.
§ Mr. Janner
In view of the fact that two consignments, separated by a couple of months, contained quite a large number of these contaminated eggs, is the Minister satisfied that the precautions which are being taken are sufficient to meet the contingencies which might arise?
I believe so. This is a very important matter, and I am anxious that every possible step should be taken—so is the Minister of Health—to deal with it. We are arranging for all stocks of frozen Chinese egg to be examined as rapidly as possible.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether he proposes to 368 make that his policy in regard to all foodstuffs from abroad—to test them before they reach the consumer?
That aspect is the responsibility of the Minister of Health. As the right hon. Lady knows, the medical officers of health of local authorities have that responsibility and carry it out.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Would my right hon. Friend be good enough to confirm what appears to be the case from a Written Reply I had to a Question two days ago and say whether in the two importations the Government were the principal in the transaction and the firm of Epdal, Ltd., was merely acting as the agents? If that is the fact, would my right hon. Friend be kind enough to express profound regret that a large number of my constituents had paratyphoid and some nearly died of it?
As I have said, I regard this as a very serious matter indeed. Naturally I am very glad to express deep sympathy with all who have suffered from it. The Government are not now importers of this frozen egg. It is being imported by private traders, but we are disposing of our stocks.
§ Mr. Willey
In view of these cases, will the right hon. Gentleman review his policy, which was to dispose of these stocks over a considerable period? Would it not be more advisable now to dispose of them as quickly as possible?
I think the hon. Member must leave it to me to dispose of these stocks in the best way in the interests of all concerned. I am taking every conceivable step to ensure that there shall not be a recurrence of this trouble.
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member is expecting me to reply in terms of days, weeks, months or years.