Southwark Borough Council have considered a report of the special sub‐committee of the Kensington Borough Council relative to the use of boric acid as a preservative in cream. Mr. Cyril Dickinson, public analyst for the borough of Southwark, in a report to the Public Health Committee, states that a Departmental Committee reported in 1901 on the use of preservatives and colouring matter in foods, and in this report recommended that the only preservative which it shall be lawful to use in cream be boric acid, or mixtures of boric acid and borax, and in amount not exceeding 0.25 per cent. (17.5 grains to the pound) expressed as boric acid, the amount of such preservative to be notified on the label of the vessel. The late Local Government Board, in 1912, issued the milk and cream regulations, followed by an Amending Order, in 1917, which provides that no preservative shall be added to cream except boric acid “in amount not exceeding 0.4 per cent. (28 grains to the pound),” and requiring the declaratory labels to bear the words “not suitable for infants or invalids.” The circular which accompanied the Order of 1917 referred to the order as an interim measure, and mentioned the appointment of a small expert committee to enquire further into the matter, at the same time pointing out that it might bo found that the limit of boric acid in cream should be less than the maximum fixed by the regulations, and urging that every effort be made to use as little as possible or even dispense with it entirely. Although five years have elapsed since the issue of the order, the committee of experts has not yet been appointed, and Kensington Borough Council were now asking for support from the Minister of Health to institute forthwith the enquiry promised. The cream trade in Southwark was of a limited character, as evidenced by the difficulty in obtaining samples from vendors other than the large stores. In September, 1910, the public analyst adds, he reported to the Council in detail the results of a series of analyses of cream bought in the borough. The average amount of boric acid then found (0.23 per cent.) was considerably below the maximum amount (0.4 per cent.) mentioned in the regulations in 1917. He felt that his Council should support the Kensington Borough Council in their action, and at the same time should urge on the Minister of Health the very great necessity of going into the whole question of preservatives in food. No action had yet been taken to carry into effect the recommendations of the Departmental Committee of 1901, and the present position was extremely unsatisfactory both for the public and the trade. If preservatives are to be allowed in foods their nature and the amounts permissible should be definitely settled for the country as a whole; it should not be left to individual authorities to fight test cases. The problem was a very wide and difficult one, but an earnest attempt should be made to solve it, and so place the administration of this section of public health work on a satisfactory basis.
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