The Board of Agriculture, by virtue of the powers conferred upon them by the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1899, have made regulations whereby it may be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that milk containing less than 8·5 per cent. of solids‐not‐fat, or less than 3 per cent of fat, is adulterated within the meaning of the Act. The suggested limit for fat in milk recommended by the special committee appointed by the Board of Agriculture was 3·per cent., and it will therefore be observed that the new regulations have fixed a standard for milk‐fat which is even lower than the low limit recommended by the committee. There are even rumours that a further lowering of this standard is to bo urged upon the authorities. Although from the point of view of Public Analysts and the officials responsible for the enforcement of the Food and Drugs Acts it is satisfactory that an official standard for the composition of milk has at last been set up, it is idle to suppose that the fixing of such a limit will materially improve the character of the milk‐supply as a whole. It should be remembered that milk which contains only 3 per cent of fat, although under the new regulations legally “genuine,” is, as a matter of fact, of the poorest quality, and is only produced by a cow when in bad condition, or by a particular breed of cow which is remarkable more for the quantity than for the quality of the fluid yielded. Producers and vendors of milk of good quality have been placed in a very unfortunate position by the new regulations, as the tendency of the trade will be to lower all milk to the official limits, with the result that those dealers who are still desirous of maintaining a high standard of quality will have to compete in the matter of price with less conscientious traders, who, taking advantage of the protection afforded by the regulations, will be enabled to sell to the public “genuine” milk, from which all “superfluous” fat has been removed. Gradation of quality in an article of food cannot, of course, be provided for by official regulation, and for the purpose of legal classification it is only possible to differentiate between legally “genuine” and adulterated articles. Therefore, in a legal sense, and also in a popular sense, a milk containing 4 per cent. of fat is no more “ genuine ” than one containing 3 per cent., although the former is, of course, a superior article. Competition in the dairy trade, which has of late years become very keen, will, as the result of the fixing of this standard, become more acute than before, and to keep their position it will be necessary for those milk‐vendors who are desirous of maintaining their reputation as vendors of milk of good quality to give to their customers some guarantee that their product is indeed superior to the legalised article. Any statements of the traders themselves upon this point will naturally be received by customers with reserve, as proceeding from an interested source, and the guarantee, to be effective, must therefore be given by an authority whose statements are above suspicion. It is hero that the system of Control will be found to be a necessity both to the milk dealer and milk consumer.
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