A circular letter addressed by the Local Government Board on the 27th October, 1913, to Authorities administering the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, is printed as an Addendum to a recently issued Report by DR. MACFADDEN, on the work of the Board's Inspectors of Foods during the year 191314. This letter relates to the administration of the Public Health Milk and Cream Regulations, 1912, and points out that by these Regulations a definite restriction has been placed on the use of preservatives by producers, retailers and others concerned in the milk and cream trade, that no preservative is to be added to milk inany case, that no preservative is to be added to cream which is sold as cream, and that the Regulations do not prohibit the sale of cream containing boric acid, borax, or a mixture of these preservative substances, or hydrogen peroxide, provided 1 that it is sold not as cream, but as preserved cream, and 2 that the vessel in which it is sold bears a declaration in the prescribed form, showing the amount and nature of the particular preservative added, the addition to cream of any other preservative substances than those mentioned being prohibited. It is further stated that the object of the Regulations in regard to cream is to secure that preserved cream sold in compliance with the Regulations shall be distinguished at all stages of sale from cream to which no preservative has been added, and that this distinction is important in the interests of the public generally, and particularly in the interests of children and invalids. The italics are ours. In view of this pronouncement by the Board it is pertinent to enquire as to the fate of the extraordinary recommendation made in one of the Board's recent official reports to the effect that a much larger maximum amount of preservative should be allowed in cream during the six warmer months of the year than during the other six months. If a maximum limit is fixed for any period it is plain that the presence of an amount of preservative in excess of that limit is regarded by the Board as capable of rendering the cream injurious to healthat any rate in so far as children and invalids are concerned. It follows, therefore, that the adoption of the recommendation referred to would result in the sale of cream which, on the Board's own showing, must be injurious to health, during the warmer months of the year. The recommendation in question has been put forward as an argument for the defence in cases of prosecution for the adulteration of cream with preservatives, and in view of its official or semiofficial nature, has created unnecessary difficulties for the prosecuting Authorities. It is true that in the Sessions Appeal case of Whale v. Bennett, the character of this recommendation was thoroughly exposed and that the proposal was effectively disposed of, but it is none the less serious and inconvenient that such a suggestion should have been allowed to appear in a Government Report. We hope that we may now be permitted to congratulate the Board on the fact that they have officially repudiated the recommendation in question. The circular letter urges Local Authorities administering the Food and Drugs Acts to see that the Milk and Cream Regulations, 1912, are enforced in their districts by the administrative procedure authorised under the Regulations, and, should necessity arise, by the institution of proceedings under the public health enactments referred to in the note appended to the Regulations. It is, however, admitted by the Board in this letter that the action taken under the Regulations is independent of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts and does not affect the action which may be taken under those Acts and that it is open to the Authority on consideration of the report of a Public Analyst on a sample of milk or cream to take action either under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts or under the Regulations, but the Board considers that it is generally desirable that in cases in which it appears that the Regulations have been infringed, such action as may be necessary should be taken under the Regulations rather than under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts. We are unable to agree with this view. The appeal cases of Cullen v. McNair and Whale v. Bennett have resulted in the decisive establishment of the fact that the presence of boric preservatives in cream to the extent mentioned in those cases renders the adulterated cream injurious to health, and, in all cases where samples of cream are found to contain such amounts of this adulterant, Local Authorities will be well advised to institute proceedings under the Third Section of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875. The Sixth Section of the Act of 1875 has been shown to be useless by the decision in the Sessions appeal case of Williams v. Friend, whereas under the Third Section notification of the presence of the amount of the adulterant affords no protection to the adulterator, and the law in this respect is not and cannot be overridden by the Milk and Cream Regulations, 1912. The principal blot on the Milk and Cream Regulations, 1912, is that under these Regulations any amount of an injurious preservative may be added with impunity to cream so long as the cream is sold as preserved cream and the amount of the preservative present is stated on the labelprovisions which are perfectly worthless so far as the protection of the ordinary purchaser is concerned.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 1915