Next after butter and milk—as regards the total number of samples examined—come spirits, of which 6,938 samples were dealt with. Of the articles of which sufficiently numerous analyses were made to furnish reliable data, spirits as a class are the most extensively adulterated, and the 12 per cent. of adulteration recorded for the year under review does not, in all probability, nearly represent the real extent of the evil. Many samples are returned as genuine which have been watered beyond the legal limit because the vendors have exhibited dilution notices, a method of legalising what are essentially fraudulent practices which is, unfortunately, being extended to other foods and drinks, and bids fair to bring the whole execution of the “Acts” to a standstill. In addition to this there are the widest differences of opinion and practice amongst both Public Analysts and Local Authorities as regards those spirits which have been the subjects of prosecution, on account of their origin or mode of manufacture, i.e., for being partially or entirely the product of the “patent still.” Prosecutions of brandy for containing spirit not derived from the grape have been fairly common, and similar offences connected with whisky and rum have also been brought before the courts, and yet the proportion of “spirits” now found to be adulterated is 30 per cent. lower than it was ten years ago, when watering was practically the only offence recorded. In view of the interest aroused and the intrinsic importance of the whole question some details and some guidance also might be looked for in such a report as this. Unfortunately the spirits are all lumped together under one heading, and although the presence in brandy of alcohol not derived from the grape is referred to, no further details are given. It is, no doubt, the case that the Local Government Board is not in a position to express an authoritative opinion on any of the difficult problems to which we have referred, and has no legal power to fix standards or enforce their use; nevertheless the mere statement of the number of prosecutions, of brandy, for instance (for containing other than grape‐derived spirit) together with the maximum and minimum proportions of the foreign spirit or the figures for esters in the corresponding cases would have at least shown to what extent the recently promulgated standards for this liquor had gained acceptance throughout the country.
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