14 June 1996

Label listings under scrutiny

THE GOVERNMENT is considering forcing all animal feed manufacturers to provide full ingredients declarations.

Agriculture spokesman Lord Lucas told peers that the government was looking carefully whether it was right to insist on mandatory ingredients listing.

He welcomed the recent announcement that the major feed firms were to switch to full ingredients listing for most compound feeds. But the position was being monitored and that further action would be taken, if necessary.

Labour peer Lord Carter said farmers and their organisations had been seeking full ingredients listing for a very long time. That had been resisted by a number of manufacturers and it was only the BSE crisis which had forced a change of heart.

"Does the minister agree that if full feed ingredients listing had been in place we would have been able to trace the source and use of the infected feed and deal with the BSE crisis much more quickly and effectively?" Lord Carter asked.

Lord Lucas said he did not believe that it would have made any difference. "Looking back, farmers were quite happy with the practice of feeding meat and bonemeal to cattle before it was discovered to be dangerous."

"Once it was discovered to be dangerous, it was banned. Therefore, I do not believe that there is anything that farmers would have gained from knowing what the feed contained."