HL Deb 13 February 1962 vol 237

 2.10 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

 [The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cause of the poisoning of members of the crew of H.M.S. "Ganges"; and what steps are proposed to prevent similar incidents in future.]


My Lords, I am sorry to say that it has not so far been possible to establish the cause of the outbreak of food poisoning in H.M.S. "Ganges" at the beginning of December 1961. The immediate investigation carried out by the medical staff of H.M.S. "Ganges" failed to reveal any evidence of bacterial infection. This, and the pattern of the outbreak, led to the preliminary conclusion that the illness was caused by apples which were issued at supper on the evening of December 1. The report of a local analyst lent support to this conclusion. A thorough investigation has since been made both by the Government Chemist and by the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment at Porton, and no evidence has been found that the illness was caused by the presence of spray residues on the apples. It is not certain whether or not the apples were the cause of the out-break, but as a precautionary measure while these investigations have been proceeding, all apples issued in H.M.S. "Ganges" have been washed before being eaten. Since the cause of the food poisoning is still unknown, I cannot yet take any special steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.


My Lords, could the noble Lord say what was the source of the apples? Were they home grown or imported?


My Lords, the apples were English grown on a farm in Kent; they were wrapped and crated, and had been obtained by H.M.S. "Ganges" from N.A.A.F.I., who had purchased them from Spitalfields Market.