Attention has often been directed to the fact that much unwrapped bread becomes dangerously dirty by the time it is consumed, and there is now a considerable body of opinion in favour of making the wrapping compulsory. The hygienic advantages of this are unquestionable; for although a loaf may be of a high standard of purity on leaving the factory, there are ways by which much contamination may occur subsequently. There are dangers, beyond the control of Sanitary Authorities, arising from contamination by dirty hands, clothing, baskets and carts; the dust from streets, doorsteps and window sills; and from the organisms of disease harboured by apparently healthy “carriers” of infection; and very often pieces of crust are given to little children to bite upon, in order to aid the development of their teeth and gums.—Dr. G. H. Dart (the Medical Officer of Health for Hackney) has recently emphasised the fact that there is much typhoid and paratyphoid fever, and other disturbances of health, which occur without any source of infection being traced; and he maintains that it is a reasonable assumption that some of this infection results from our failure to adopt measures for safeguarding the cleanliness of bread. From a small investigation upon five loaves, it was found recently that four of them yielded bacteriological results that testified to gross contamination—a number of streptocococci, staphylococci and coliform organisms having been found upon each of the four loaves. It will not be disputed that the value of the precautions adopted, even in the most hygienic bakeries, may be greatly discounted by the failure to protect the bread from contamination in its subsequent passage to the consumer; and it seems—to say the least of it—inconsistent, to provide against the contamination of meat (as by the 1924 Meat Regulations)—an article of food which is cooked before consumption—and to ignore the contamination of bread which is eaten as delivered to the purchaser. That bread can be wrapped without loss of flavour and at little cost has been demonstrated in America and by some bakers in England. In a useful paper by C. H. F. Fuller, B.Sc, A.I.C., Research Laboratories, Messrs. J. Lyons & Co., Ltd., which appeared in the last issue of the Journal of the Royal Sanitary Institute, attention is drawn to the fact that it is possible, by the employment of a waxed paper wrapping, largely to eliminate moisture loss from the loaf, and thus to secure a loaf which remains longer in a palatable condition, owing to delay in the onset of staling; but before wrapping, the loaf must be cooled until the centre attains a temperature not far beyond that of the outside air, in order to avoid the occurrence of “sweating,” i.e., deposition of moisture on the crust and inside of the wrapper. He also refutes the contention that the wrapping of bread necessarily leads to the absorption of foreign flavours from the wax or paper; for trouble from these causes is avoidable if suitable measures are adopted. Indeed, the whole subject of bread wrapping has been submitted to a close examination by a number of investigators; and in general there is agreement among them that no deleterious effect upon the quality of the bread results, and that the public would benefit from the resulting improvement in cleanliness, freshness and palatability. The hygienic considerations in reference to bread apply also to all exposed food which is not washed, peeled, cooked or treated in same way which removes dirt or renders it safe for consumption. The obvious remedy for the dangers involved by our neglect is to press for legal powers to enforce the necessary precautions and to educate public opinion upon the need for these.
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