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Lord Donoughue: Dr. Margaret Ashwell was a member of the Food Advisory Committee from 1 November 1986 to 31 October 1995. She is currently programme adviser for the MAFF optimal nutrition status research and development programme.
The Government have noted the views of speakers at the industry organised symposium on vitamin B6 on 8 September. However, it has every confidence in the advice of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment and the Food Advisory Committee that the level of vitamin B6 in dietary supplements sold under food law be limited to a maximum of 10mg per daily dose.
Lord Donoughue: The Food Advisory Committee (FAC), the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) and the EU Scientific Committee for Food have all accepted that intakes of 50mg of vitamin B6 per day must be regarded as potentially harmful.
Lord Donoughue: The Consumers' Association did not request that the safety of vitamin B6 be reviewed by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). It expressed concerns about the safety of high dose vitamins and mineral supplements and in this context drew attention to the availability of supplements containing high doses of vitamin B6. The decision to ask the COT to review the safety of vitamin B6 was
The Consumers' Association did not declare any interests in, or the receipt of any funding from, the pharmaceutical industry or any associated trusts when expressing its concerns about the safety of high dose vitamins and mineral supplements.
Lord Donoughue: No decision has yet been made on the extent of the consultation exercise on the draft regulations to introduce the controls on dietary supplements containing vitamin B6. However, organisations representing interests likely to be substantially effected by the regulations will be included.
Lord Donoughue: My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food received advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) in May that our existing controls on specified bovine material and heads of sheep and goats should be extended to cover the spleen of all sheep and goats and the spinal cord of sheep and goats aged over 12 months or with one permanent incisor tooth erupted through the gum. In addition, SEAC advised that all the controls should be applied to imports. We were pleased, therefore, when the European Commission adopted in July Decision 97/534/EC which provides for Community-wide controls on the use and destruction of specified risk material (SRM) and for controls on products of animal origin imported into the Community to ensure they are SRM-free. In reaching agreement on that Decision my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food accepted that the Community-wide controls should take effect from 1 January 1998. However, it subsequently became clear that the decision would create serious practical difficulties, in particular for importers of pharmaceutical and medical products. The Commission therefore proposed a new decision to replace 97/534/EC which took account of these problems.
Lord Donoughue: My honourable friend the Minister of State of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is glad to report that refurbishment work has been completed at three out of the four buildings at the British Cattle Movement Service site at Workington. One building was handed over to MAFF in November, and a further two are being completed and handed over today. Work is now under way to equip these buildings ready for occupation. The fourth building will be handed over next year.
My honourable friend the Minister of State of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was also pleased to announce that we have appointed a director of the British Cattle Movement Service following an open competition. He is David Evans, currently assistant regional director at the MAFF Regional Service Centre at Carlisle.
Lord Donoughue: Yes. The European Commission has allocated the United Kingdom some £20.3 million to operate the Scheme during 1998. Approximately 10 million cans of stewed steak will be made available to local authorities and to charitable and other non-profit making organisations to distribute to those on income support, family credit, jobseeker's allowance (income based only) or disability working allowance, the homeless and destitute and those living in welfare hostels. The scheme will only involve UK intervention beef which contains no offal and will be from animals killed when they were under 30 months of age and is no different to the meat currently available in the shops. We are pleased that this surplus beef is to be put to good use.
Lord Donoughue: At my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's request, at its meeting on 2 December the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee considered the practice of feeding animal by-products to animals of the same species. The committee's advice is being published in full, and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House.
The committee did not consider that there was an immediate risk from intraspecies feeding. However, they thought it possible that TSEs might arise spontaneously in any species with a prion protein gene, and that if this were the case the practice of recycling waste as feed within a species could spread any resultant disease. The committee describes the risk here as small, but considered that it could not be discounted completely.
The committee has recommended that the Government develop a strategy to remove this risk, taking account of practical enforcement considerations and alternative disposal options, and discusses it with EC partners. Although the risk is small, my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food intends to accept this recommendation on a precautionary basis.
Essentially this means that the current practices of processing certain types of waste containing porcine material and feeding it as swill to pigs, and using poultry and feather meal as high protein ration for poultry, will have to end. Before legislating, however, my right
This action to avoid any possibility that a risk which the committee described as "small" and "potential" means that consumers will continue to enjoy the highest possible protection against the risks from TSEs, and gives the assurance that pig and poultry products remain TSE-free.
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