With the view of obtaining reliable firsthand information as to the nature and efficacy of the food laws in Great Britain, France, and Germany, Mr. ROBERT ALLEN, the Secretary of the Pure Food Commission of Kentucky, has recently visited London, Paris, and Berlin. He has now published a report, containing a number of facts and conclusions of very considerable interest and importance, which, we presume, will be laid before the great Congress of Food Experts to be held on the occasion of the forthcoming exposition at St. Louis. Mr. ALLEN severely criticises the British system, and calls particular attention to the evils attending our feeble legislation, and still more feeble administrative methods. The criticisms are severe, but they are just. Great Britain, says Mr. ALLEN, is par excellence the dumpingground for adulterated, sophisticated, and impoverished foods of all kinds. France, Germany, and America, he observes, have added a superstructure to their Tariff walls in the shape of standards of purity for imported foodproducts, while through Great Britain's open door are thrust the greater part of the bad goods which would be now rejected in the three countries above referred to. Whatever views may be held as to the imposition of Tariffs no sane person will deny the importance of instituting some kind of effective control over the quality of imported food products, and, while it may be admitted that an attemptall too restricted in its naturehas been made in the Food Act of 1899 to deal with the matter, it certainly cannot be said that any really effective official control of the kind indicated is at present in existence in the British Isles. We agree with Mr. ALLEN'S statement that our food laws are inadequate and that, such as they are, those laws are poorly enforced, or not enforced at all. It is also true that there are no standards or limits in regard to the composition and quality of food products except loose and low standards for butter and milk, and we are compelled to admit that with the exception of the British Analytical Control there exists no organisationeither official or voluntary which can be said to concern itself in a comprehensive and effective manner with the allimportant subject of the nature and quality of the food supply of the people. In the United States, and in some of those European countries which are entitled to call themselves civilised, the pure food question has been studied carefully and seriously in recent yearswith the result that legislation and administrative machinery of far superior types to ours are rapidly being introduced. With us adulteration, sophistication, and the supply of inferior goods are still commonly regarded as matters to be treated in a sort of joking spirit, even by persons whose education and position are such as to make their adoption of so foolish an attitude most astonishing to those who have given even but slight attention to the subject. Lethargy, carelessness, and a species of feeble frivolity appear to be growing among us to such an extent as to threaten to become dangerous in a national sense. We should be thankful for outspoken criticismif only for the bracing effect it ought to produce.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 1904