§ Mr. Cryer
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether funds will continue to be provided for Dr. Geoff Mead at the Institute of Food Research in Bristol and his work on the introduction of benign bacteria to chickens to kill salmonella organisms; and if he will make a statement;
(2) how much grant has been paid to Dr. Geoff Mead at the Institute of Food Research for research into the 239W suppression of salmonella organisms; what results have been obtained; whether further grant aid has been requested; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr Ryder
The research conducted by Dr. Geoff Mead and his team of scientists over more than 10 years into the manipulation of microbial flora of the gut of young chickens has been supported by my Department and the Agricultural and Food Research Council at a current cost of about £100,000 annually. As stated in my reply to the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham), this work was reviewed as part of an extensive review of MAFF-commissioned research in microbiology and it was decided that funding should cease from April 1989. Since my reply to the hon. Member I understand that a commercial company has expressed interest in taking that work further. Funding is to be diverted to other important microbiological work.
§ Mr. Butler
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the proportion of eggs produced in England which are infected with salmonella.
§ Mr. Ryder
I regret that it is not possible to make a precise estimate, but I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health told the House on 5 December at column 19—that the risk of infection to any individual is small and the risk to the healthy adult is small indeed. The industry and the Government are working together urgently to reduce that risk to a minimum.