The Departmental Committee appointed to inquire into the use of preservatives and colouring matters in the preservation and colouring of food, have now issued their report, and the large amount of evidence which is recorded therein will be found to be of the greatest interest to those concerned in striving to obtain a pure and unsophisticated food‐supply. It is of course much to be regretted that the Committee could not see their way to recommend the prohibition of all chemical preservatives in articles of food and drink; but, apart from this want of strength, they have made certain recommendations which, if they become law, will greatly improve the character of certain classes of food. It is satisfactory to note that formaldehyde and its preparations may be absolutely prohibited in foods and drinks; but, on the other hand, it is suggested that salicylic acid may be allowed in certain proportions in food, although in all cases its presence is to be declared. The entire prohibition of preservatives in milk would be a step in the right direction, although it is difficult to see why, in view of this recommendation, boric acid should be allowed to the extent of 0·25 per cent. in cream, more especially as by another recommendation all dietetic preparations intended for the use of invalids or infants are to be entirely free from preservative chemicals; but it will be a severe shock to tho3e traders who are in the habit of using these substances to be informed that they must declare the fact of the admixture by a label attached to the containing vessel. The use of boric acid and borax only is to be permitted in butter and margarine, in proportions not exceeding 0·5 per cent. expressed as boric acid, without notification. It is suggested that the use of salts of copper in the so‐called greening of vegetables should not be allowed, but upon this recommendation the members of the Committee were not unanimous, as in a note attached to the report one member states that he does not agree with the entire exclusion of added copper to food, for the strange reason that certain foods may naturally contain traces of copper. With equal truth it can be said that certain foods may naturally contain traces of arsenic. Is the addition of arsenic therefore to be permitted? The Committee are to be congratulated upon the result of their labours, and when these recommendations become law Great Britain may be regarded as having come a little more into line— although with some apparent reluctance—with those countries who regard the purity of their food‐supplies as a matter of national importance.
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