26 April 1996

N research confusion

GOVERNMENT ministers have issued conflicting statements over latest research into the human health effects of nitrates in food and water.

Junior farm minister Angela Browning said in a written Commons reply that early research from a study at Aberdeen Univers-ity suggests "nitrate may play a significant role in protecting the body from bacterial infection". But a full assessment could not be made until the work was completed in the spring of 1997.

Earlier junior health minister John Horam was asked what assessment his department had made of the latest research into the effect of nitrates in diet and water.

He said, in another written reply: "Nitrate in diet and water is not known to be beneficial to health". &#42