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British Food Journal Volume 27 Issue 4 1925

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 April 1925


A Report has been issued by the Medical Research Council upon the investigations of the Salmonella Group, with special reference to food‐poisoning, conducted by Dr. William G. Savage and Mr. P. Bruce White. In a preface to the report, it is stated that early in 1921 the Ministry of Health invited the co‐operation of the Medical Research Council in the promotion of a scheme of investigation into outbreaks of food‐poisoning, of which the general lines had been arranged by the Ministry in consultation with Dr. W. G. Savage, medical officer of health for Somersetshire. Nearly nine‐tenths of food‐poisoning outbreaks are due to organisms of the Salmonella or Gaertner group of bacteria, and although much successful work has been done in the identification and classification of these organisms and in tracing the causes of particular outbreaks of poisoning, we have very little knowledge of the paths, whether through animal infections or otherwise, by which these organisms have found their way originally into the food to which their subsequent ill‐effects may have been traced. The council undertook to promote further investigation. They secured the whole‐time services of Mr. P. Bruce White for the bacteriological work required, and by the courtesy of Professor Walker Hall he was enabled to work in the bacteriological laboratories of the University of Bristol, in close touch with Dr. Savage at Weston‐super‐Mare. The field inquiries were arranged by the Food Department of the Ministry of Health, with the assistance of medical officers of health and of veterinary surgeons. In these, Dr. Savage and Mr. Bruce‐White co‐operated while conducting the laboratory investigations. The results already gained include some important advances in our knowledge of the natural history of organisms of the Salmonella group, and a record of the details of many varieties of outbreaks of food‐poisoning among human beings. That side of the inquiry, in which it was hoped to deal effectively with the paths of infection through domestic or agricultural animals, has halted, in spite of much effort, for want of better facilities in this country for systematic studies of comparative pathology, but it is hoped that in the early future the work can be extended successfully in this direction. The introduction to the report explains that the primary object of the investigation has been the elucidation, not merely of the causes of bacterial food‐poisoning outbreaks, which are for the most part known, but the paths by which infection is transmitted to the food. The latter, in spite of much work, remains largely unascertained. Since the majority of outbreaks, and practically all of any importance, which occur in this country are due to specific infection or intoxication with bacilli of the Salmonella group, work has been restricted to that group. The problem is so complex that the investigators have repeatedly been compelled to branch off into studies which at first may not seem to be germane to the primary object, but they are necessary deviations and bear directlv upon the work. The report is divided into three parts. Part I. contains an extensive survey of the serological properties of the group. It shows that the sub‐grounds described are definite entities which arc fairly clear‐cut, and which do not pass into one another under any known conditions. It is hoped that these studies, following on the valuable work of Schütze and others, will establish the different sub‐groups or types on a clearly recognizable basis. In Part 2 the investigators have tried to demonstrate that these sub‐groups not only have a definite distribution in nature, but have become somewhat specialised in their disease‐producing characters. It is obvious that until this is done it is not possible to disentangle their relationships to disease or to place the aetiology of food‐poisoning on a firm basis. The definitions and distinctions between the different sub‐groups have been so confused in the past that the essential importance of this relationship has largely been overlooked. In Part 3 experimental work is advanced which the investigators consider helps to explain the differing disease‐producing rôles of these sub‐groups.


(1925), "British Food Journal Volume 27 Issue 4 1925", British Food Journal, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 31-40.




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