In a recent article upon the improper handling of meat, the Daily Mail observed that if the public realised the condition of much of the meat delivered to them there would be such an outcry that the Ministry of Health would be compelled to issue definite regulations governing the transport and sale of meat. London butchers are not the worst offenders. Many of them conform voluntarily to standards of hygiene that are far better than in many provincial towns where the public health authorities are lax; but even in London it is possible, in every district, to see revolting methods of dealing with meat. The great Central Meat Market at Smithfield is under the control of the Corporation of the City of London. There are definite orders that meat porters must wear white overalls and caps in addition to various sanitary regulations as to the transport of meat. Many men disobey them with impunity. Among incidents seen there by a representative of the Daily Mail were :—Porters with filthy tweed caps and still filthier sacking carrying carcases on their shoulders; carcases of mutton lying unprotected on a muddy pavement; a scavenger sweeping up dust and manure just beneath an open cart loaded with mutton; a boy with muddy boots and grimy clothes sitting on a heap of meat in another open‐end cart. If the orders of the Ministry cannot be enforced at Smithfield it is not surprising that they are utterly ignored in other places. More than half the butchers' shops seen in a long tour of London neglected the most elementary precautions against the contamination of meat from dust and dirt. The following are some typical examples:—Meat exposed in trays on the pavement, with a marble shop wall behind absolutely black with dirt and mud splashes ; a road‐sweeping machine spraying dirt on to joints exposed without any covering on a stall in the gutter outside a butcher's shop; refuse from a dust‐cart blowing on to meat in another open‐fronted shop; cooked meats exposed in an open window in one of the busiest streets in London. The Ministry of Health, in an explanatory memorandum, expressly excluded cooked meat from the operation of any regulations. Yet, as Medical Officers of Health point out, cooked meat, since it is eaten as bought, is a more dangerous carrier of infection than raw meat. The Ministry, it is understood, “ hope to be able to issue regulations dealing with the sale of cooked meat some time,” but cannot say when or promise an early date. The whole fault, for which the public have to pay the toll of disease due to dirty meat, is in the vagueness of the regulations made by the Ministry a year ago.
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