What proof have the public, independent of the assertions of the makers, that all the firms whose products are sold indifferently by the shopkeepers use only the best materials; or, indeed, that a large number of the articles sold are not mixtures more or less objectionable or fraudulent ? This, in effect, is the question put by a writer in a West of England newspaper, and it might be used as a text upon which to write a lengthy homily on the adulteration question and on the astonishing gullibility of the public. As a matter of fact the only evidence of the character and quality of food and other products, in regard to which there is no independent guarantee, is that which is afforded by the standing of the makers, and to some extent of the firms which offer them for sale. And this evidence cannot, under any circumstances, be looked upon as constituting proof. The startling allegations so commonly put forward by advertisers with respect to their wares, while they may be ineffective in so far as thinking people are concerned, must nevertheless be found pecuniarily advantageous since the expense involved in placing them under the eyes of the public would otherwise hardly be incurred. Many of these advertised allegations are, of course, entirely unjustifiable, or are incapable of proof. It may be hoped that the lavish manner in which they are set out, and their very extravagance, may, in time, result in producing a general effect not contemplated by the advertisers. In the meantime it cannot be too often pointed out that proof, such as that which is required for the satisfaction of the retailer and for the protection of the public, can only be obtained by the exercise of an independent control, and, in certain cases, by the maintenance of efficient independent inspection in addition, so that a guarantee of a character entirely different to that which may be offered, even by a firm of the highest eminence, may be supplied.
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