In a circular letter, addressed to local authorities by the Board of Agriculture on December 28, 1901, with reference to the Milk Regulations, the Board suggested that in the absence of any special circumstances indicating the commission of fraud, the local authority might in the first instance call the attention of the vendor to the adverse report of the analyst, and afford him an opportunity of submitting any explanation he might desire to offer on the subject. The Board further expressed the opinion that if the explanation were one which the local authority “felt able” to accept, they might, in the exercise of their discretion, refrain from the institution of proceedings, or withdraw any summons which it might have been necessary to take out in order to avoid the failure of proceedings, at the same time making arrangements for the taking of further samples of the milk supplied, in order that a satisfactory conclusion as to its character might be arrived at. The issue of this letter was obviously a retrograde step, which could only be taken to indicate that the Board were “wobbling” over the milk standards—standards laid down by themselves on the strength of the overwhelming evidence in favour of the institution of those standards as absolute minima, which was laid before the Board's Departmental Milk Committee in 1900. If any proof were wanting that this is a correct view of the case, that proof would be afforded by the issue, on March 27 last, of a further circular letter from the Board, in which the views expressed in the former letter are reiterated, and the study of which can only produce amazement, not unmingled with disgust, among those who have had any experience worthy of the name as regards the working of the Adulteration Acts in this country. Presumably the Regulations were laid down upon due and proper cause shown. By issuing the documents referred to the Board have called the validity of their own Regulations in question, and have suggested that public authorities should base no action upon those Regulations in the absence of other evidence, the nature of which is not stated, indicating “the commission of fraud.” The action of the Board amounts to a smack in the face for the producer of honest and genuine milk such as the purchaser is entitled to get, and can only tend to the introduction of additional loopholes of escape for the dishonest and incompetent.
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