The institution of food and cookery exhibitions and the dissemination of practical knowledge with respect to cookery by means of lectures and demonstrations are excellent things in their way. But while it is important that better and more scientific attention should be generally given to the preparation of food for the table, it must be admitted to be at least equally important to insure that the food before it comes into the hands of the expert cook shall be free from adulteration, and as far as possible from impurity,—that it should be, in fact, of the quality expected. Protection up to a certain point and in certain directions is afforded to the consumer by penal enactments, and hitherto the general public have been disposed to believe that those enactments are in their nature and in their application such as to guarantee a fairly general supply of articles of tolerable quality. The adulteration laws, however, while absolutely necessary for the purpose of holding many forms of fraud in check, and particularly for keeping them within certain bounds, cannot afford any guarantees of superior, or even of good, quality. Except in rare instances, even those who control the supply of articles of food to large public and private establishments fail to take steps to assure themselves that the nature and quality of the goods supplied to them are what they are represented to be. The sophisticator and adulterator are always with us. The temptations to undersell and to misrepresent seem to be so strong that firms and individuals from whom far better things might reasonably be expected fall away from the right path with deplorable facility, and seek to save themselves, should they by chance be brought to book, by forms of quibbling and wriggling which are in themselves sufficient to show the moral rottenness which can be brought about by an insatiable lust for gain. There is, unfortunately, cheating to be met with at every turn, and it behoves at least those who control the purchase and the cooking of food on the large scale to do what they can to insure the supply to them of articles which have not been tampered with, and which are in all respects of proper quality, both by insisting on being furnished with sufficiently authoritative guarantees by the vendors, and by themselves causing the application of reasonably frequent scientific checks upon the quality of the goods.
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