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British Food Journal Volume 10 Issue 7 1908

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 July 1908



A report on this subject has recently been issued by the Local Government Board. It owes its origin to the interest—unfortunately brief—that was aroused some two years ago, when certain allegations were made concerning the methods in vogue on the other side of the Atlantic for, the preparation of meat products intended to be placed on the English market, and has been drawn up by Dr. A. W. J. MACFADDEN. The report is based on the results obtained by Public Analysts throughout the country, who, in the performance of their official duties, were called upon to examine various samples of canned meat sent out by the United States packing houses; on certain statements made by trade representatives to Dr. MACFADDEN; and, finally, on the results of some analyses of canned meats made by Mr. ELLIS RICHARDS, F.I.C., at the request of the Board. The figures must be regarded as representative of the state of affairs then and now. By far the greater quantity of canned meat that reaches this country and is consumed therein is imported from the United States, and hence, almost of necessity, any criticisms that are made regarding this part of our food supply resolve themselves into criticisms of the Federal Meat Inspection law of the United States and the way in which it is applied by the officials there. The conclusion that Dr. MACFADDEN draws as to the efficacy of this law so far as it regards ourselves is one that was expressed in this journal in May last. He observes that “our position, so far as safeguards provided by American law are concerned, is apparently much as it was before the enactments came into force,” that “so far as the use of preservatives is concerned, the new law has not affected the conditions under which the canned meat trade has been conducted with this country in past years,” and that “the onus of protecting their inhabitants in this respect continues to rest, in the first place, with the Governments of the foreign countries themselves.” The first two statements are sufficiently damning, and the corollary is, of course, obvious. The difficulties must be tackled from this side, but the entire absence, up to the present, of all official standards renders the task of the Public Analyst and the other municipal officials who are jointly concerned with him as regards the health of the districts with which they are connected, a most difficult one, and the business of the unscrupulous “poisoner for dividends,” to use an American phrase, correspondingly easy. We go a little farther than Dr. MACFADDEN, and say that the new law does not protect us even with regard to the general wholesomeness of these products. As late as January last the Inspecting Officer of the Manchester Port Sanitary Authority had occasion to draw attention to the unsatisfactory nature of certain canned goods that were imported direct from America. The examination of a consignment of 1,200 six‐pound tins of canned meat showed that 157 tins were blown, and that 156 tins were of doubtful quality. It follows that in this single instance 1,800 pounds of garbage were exported to this country from the United States, the new law notwithstanding.


(1908), "British Food Journal Volume 10 Issue 7 1908", British Food Journal, Vol. 10 No. 7, pp. 109-126.




Copyright © 1908, MCB UP Limited

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