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International Animal Trade

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will appoint the DTLR In House Consultancy Unit to review her Department's procedures for the licensing of international trade in animals. [52244]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 25 April 2002]: As a result of the creation of this Department in June 2001, several different licensing regimes affecting wildlife were brought into the one Department. We therefore

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commissioned the DTLR In House Consultancy Unit to produce an overview, and make recommendations about improved customer service in those areas. This study is on-going and encompasses all aspects of wildlife licensing, including the international trade in wild animals.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the National Farmers Union on the subject of bovine TB. [52414]

Mr. Morley: I met the Vice President of the National Farmers Union on Wednesday 24 April to discuss ways forward on bovine TB. Topics included clearing the backlog of TB tests, possible practical measures to manage the risk of bovine TB, and how the economic impact of control measures might be reduced.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made on measures to deal with bovine TB, with specific reference to (a) vaccination, (b) husbandry and (c) genetic testing and evolution. [52416]

Mr. Morley: The Government has, with advice from the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG), put in place a wide-ranging research programme into bovine TB. The programme is described in the ISG's reports which are available on DEFRA's website at http://defraweb/animalh/tb/. £1.4m is being spent annually on vaccine research and although the sequencing of the M. bovis genome announced recently is an important step forward, the ISG has cautioned that it is likely to be 10 years or so before a successful vaccine is found. On husbandry issues, a vital element of the research programme is an epidemiological questionnaire (TB99) which will give an insight into risk factors associated with husbandry practice and biosecurity. The research programme includes projects on genome sequencing postgenomics and genotyping of M. bovis.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on Government advice offered to dairy farmers on the subject of bovine TB. [52415]

Mr. Morley: In October 2001 the Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to all cattle keepers enclosing copies of leaflets entitled, TB in cattle reducing the risk and Golden Rules for a healthy herd. The second contains general advice on disease risk assessment when bringing cattle into the herd. Specific advice has been given to all veterinary practices on herd health following the foot and mouth outbreak.

Graffiti

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to reduce graffiti; and if she will make a statement. [42240]

Mr. Denham: I have been asked to reply.

Writing graffiti will normally constitute an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. Where criminal proceedings are not appropriate, it can also be dealt with through a number of measures designed to address

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anti-social behaviour, including anti-social behaviour orders. Our neighbourhood wardens programme and proposals for community safety officers will help to reduce yobbish behaviour, such as graffiti writing, in our neighbourhoods. We are also providing support through the Youth Justice Board for a range of projects to combat the problem of youth crime, including graffiti.

HEALTH

Children's Diet

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children in England he estimates have a poor diet. [45003]

Yvette Cooper Government surveys show that the majority of children consume diets which contain enough calories, protein, vitamins and minerals to meet their requirements. However, there are concerns about the balance and variety of foods in children's diets.

Around 14 per cent of children's average energy (calorie) intake comes from saturated fat (compared to 11 per cent recommended), around 17 per cent of children's average energy intake comes from added sugars (compared to 10 per cent recommended) and average intakes of salt are up to twice the recommended amount. The percentage of children meeting current dietary recommendations varies by age. However, only around 15 per cent of all children meet the recommendations for added sugars, around 8 per cent meet the recommendations for saturated fat and around 42 per cent meet the recommendations for total fat.

Intakes of fruit and vegetables are particularly low—average intake is only 2 portions per day and one in five 4 to 6 year olds eat no fruit at all in a week. There are also concerns about differences in diet between social groups. For example, children from the lowest social group tend to eat 50 per cent less fruit and vegetables than those from the highest social group.

Further details on food consumption patterns and levels of individual nutrient intakes can be found in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey for young people aged 4 to 18 years, which has been placed in the Library.

Food Standards Agency

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what baseline was established during 2000–01 for monitoring the Service Delivery Agreement target specified on Page 27 of the 2001 report of the Food Standards Agency to reduce foodborne illness by 20 per cent over the next five years. [49079]

Yvette Cooper: The baseline established for monitoring the target of reducing foodborne illness by 20 per cent by April 2006 was announce by the Food Standards Agency on 23 August 2001. It is based on UK laboratory reports of the five major foodborne bacteria, excluding cases reported to have been acquired abroad. The baseline figure for the 5-year period, starting 1 April 2001, is 65,209.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Service Delivery Agreement target of the Food Standards Agency to develop policy on the nutritional

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quality of foods and diets and their effect on public health, especially amongst disadvantaged groups, has been met. [49250]

Yvette Cooper: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) published its strategic framework on nutrition in March 2001 and its nutrition action plan in December 2001. Copies have been placed the Library. These documents set out the work programme the FSA has in hand on diet and health issues, including that related to disadvantaged groups.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the quantitive consumer market research carried out by the Food Standards Agency to identify measures to assess changes in consumer attitudes on food safety and standards. [49069]

Yvette Cooper: As part of its commitment to putting the consumer first, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) conducts an annual survey of consumer attitudes to food safety and food standards issues. This survey provides valuable information about consumer attitudes, behaviours and preferences which is used to inform Agency priorities and activities. It also tracks awareness and confidence in the Agency itself.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Food Standards Agency has fulfilled its Service Delivery Agreement to establish a system for post hoc audits of major food incidents involving relevant services. [49081]

Yvette Cooper: A system of reviews of major food incidents is in place and in addition to internal review meetings a stakeholder workshop was held during 2001 to consider the co-ordination of food incident handling with key stakeholders.

Caffeinated Energy Drinks

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department and its agencies have consulted other Governmental health agencies on the safety of caffeinated energy drinks; and if he will make a statement. [49782]

Yvette Cooper: Following concern from a number of European countries over the possible adverse effects of energy drinks, the EU Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) assessed the available scientific information and published an initial opinion on the safety of the ingredients normally associated with these drinks in 1999. That opinion called for additional data, which the SCF is due to assess later this year. The Food Standards Agency liaises with this Committee, as do the Governmental health agencies of other EU countries.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he plans to issue a statement on the effects of caffeinated energy drinks on children; and if he will make a statement; [49778]

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Yvette Cooper: The safety of high caffeine drinks, often termed "energy drinks" is currently being assessed at European level and new data, including that on possible interactions with alcohol, are being reviewed by the EU Scientific Committee on Food, which is expected to complete its assessment later this year. In the meantime, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advised that, based on the available evidence, moderate consumption of stimulant drinks by adults is not a cause for concern.

A can of energy drink contains about the same quantity of caffeine as a cup of coffee. The FSA advises that stimulant drinks and other foods containing significant amounts of caffeine should be consumed in moderation by pregnant women and may be unsuitable for those sensitive to the effects of caffeine, including children who are not regular consumers of tea and coffee.

The FSA advises that these drinks are not suitable for use as rehydration agents following sport or other strenuous activities. Moderate consumption of these drinks prior to exercise is not a cause for concern, based on the available evidence.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what upper safe levels for daily intake of (a) taurine and (b) glucuronolactone have been established by the department; and if he will make a statement. [49781]

Yvette Cooper: The Department and the Food Standards Agency have not established upper safe levels for these substances. The European Union Scientific Committee on Food concluded in 1999 that further studies would be required in order to be able to establish upper safe levels for daily intake of taurine and glucuronolactone.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research his Department and its agencies have conducted into the effects of caffeinated energy drinks consumed prior to exercising, on the human body; what the findings of the research were; and if he will make a statement; [49786]

Yvette Cooper: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published a call for research on the effects of caffeine consumption during pregnancy. The results of any research commissioned as a result of this call are not expected to be available until 2005. The Department and the FSA have not commissioned any research in the other areas mentioned above.

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