To read this content please select one of the options below:

British Food Journal Volume 2 Issue 6 1900

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 June 1900



The decision of the Wolverhampton Stipendiary in the case of “Skim‐milk Cheese” is, at any rate, clearly put. It is a trial case, and, like most trial cases, the reasons for the judgment have to be based upon first principles of common‐sense, occasionally aided, but more often complicated, by already existing laws, which apply more or less to the case under discussion. The weak point in this particular case is the law which has just come into force, in which cheese is defined as the substance “usually known as cheese” by the public and any others interested in cheese. This reliance upon the popular fancy reads almost like our Government's war policy and “the man in the street,” and is a shining example of a trustful belief in the average common‐sense. Unfortunately, the general public have no direct voice in a police court, and so the “usually known as cheese” phrase is translated according to the fancy and taste of the officials and defending solicitors who may happen to be concerned with any particular case. Not having the general public to consult, the officials in this case had a war of dictionaries which would have gladdened the heart of Dr. JOHNSON; and the outcome of much travail was the following definition: cheese is “ coagulated milk or curd pressed into a solid mass.” So far so good, but immediately a second definition question cropped up—namely, What is “milk?”—and it is at this point that the mistake occurred. There is no legal definition of new milk, but it has been decided, and is accepted without dispute, that the single word “milk” means an article of well‐recognised general properties, and which has a lower limit of composition below which it ceases to be correctly described by the one word “milk,” and has to be called “skim‐milk,” “separated milk,” “ milk and water,” or other distinguishing names. The lower limits of fat and solids‐not‐fat are recognised universally by reputable public analysts, but there has been no upper limit of fat fixed. Therefore, by the very definition quoted by the stipendiary, an article made from “skim‐milk” is not cheese, for “skim‐milk” is not “milk.” The argument that Stilton cheese is not cheese because there is too much fat would not hold, for there is no legal upper limit for fat; but if it did hold, it does not matter, for it can be, and is, sold as “Stilton” cheese, without any hardship to anyone. The last suggestion made by the stipendiary would, if carried out, afford some protection to the general public against their being cheated when they buy cheese. This suggestion is that the Board of Agriculture, who by the Act of 1899 have the legal power, should determine a lower limit of fat which can be present in cheese made from milk; but, as we have repeatedly pointed out, it is by the adoption of the Control system that such questions can alone be settled to the advantage of the producer of genuine articles and to that of the public.


(1900), "British Food Journal Volume 2 Issue 6 1900", British Food Journal, Vol. 2 No. 6, pp. 147-176.




Copyright © 1900, MCB UP Limited

Related articles