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UK skimps on food testing

The BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme interviewed Richard Young, a Soil Association policy adviser.

The presenter, John Humphreys, asked him: “So long as the food is tested what’s the problem?”

Richard explained: “Quite a lot of these chemicals turning up as residues in food, are potentially dangerous to human health and I think most people would be appalled to learn that the vast majority of imported animal products that come into this country are not being checked for drug residues. The government has cut back funding in the area so much so that last year only seven foods were tested for. There was no testing of beef, lamb, pork, butter, milk… There was testing of imported fish, shrimps and some testing of poultry but because it [the Veterinary Residues Committee] is so short of money they were testing certain food when we know from various other sources that there are likely to be other drug residues turning up.

John Humphreys asked: ‘What kind of damage can this stuff [drug residues] do us, if it’s there?”

Young replied: “Some of these drugs are known to be carcinogenic and some of them are mutagenic. Yes [growth hormones] would be one concern…The government is concentrating on [highly toxic drugs] at the expense of other testing and our main concern is that the Committee is being kept short of funding. The food industry is not providing [needed] information and is relying on the government to identify problem areas. We have a vicious circle with no sides actually doing the work.”


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