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British Food Journal Volume 43 Issue 6 1941

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 June 1941



The factories are instructed as to what kinds of pack they are to produce, and their product is controlled by samples sent at specified times to the research laboratory. With greater and less attention to detailed steps the whole of agriculture and the food industry in Italy is so controlled. In Germany can be noted as an example the development on a large scale of the fishing industry in the Baltic—the scrapping of the privately‐owned small fishing boats in that sea—the launching of large vessels with their factory vessels in attendance— the keenness with which every step in the development of fish preservation has been followed—the official tests on such methods as the American Birdseye Quick Freezing, the German Heckerman process, the English Z process, and the building and the equipping of the large factories where the whole of the waste fish products are worked up into edible and useful products. This last is the keynote of the German system : waste nothing. The recovery of waste fats has been practised in Germany in an intensive fashion for several years. There have been in Germany other changes of a more subtle character, and not so obvious to the outside world. The food laws of Germany were such that the nation could be justly proud of them, but for some time there has been a distinct slackening of the control—as for example in the use of preservatives. These were strictly limited in kind and number—but even before the present phase the blind eye of the official had often been turned towards the use of disallowed preservatives and I am given to understand that certain chemicals, erstwhile forbidden, can now be used officially. It may be policy for our Ministry of Health to aid in the present critical situation by relaxing some of the regulations at present in force. Those preservatives to be released would not in any way lower the nutritional value of the foods, nor would there be allowed any of those preservatives against which a case has been made in respect of their physiological action. The impetus given to research work by totalitarian states should be an inspiration to the democracies. One of the first things the Italian Government took in hand after their conquest of Abyssinia was a scientific survey of the natural products of the country. A recent issue of Nature states that the first number of a new official Italian journal contains the results of the first three years' work on the fish of the inland waters of the former Ethiopia. As Nature points out, the far greater areas of British Eastern Africa have been subjected simply to spasmodic and short‐termed scientific examinations, chiefly resulting from the initiative of private individuals or of institutions. It is to be stressed, however, that the stimulus given to scientific studies of food production and manufacture both in Germany and Italy was activated by abnormal conditions. In neither the one nor the other can it be said that the development was a natural one—in both it was originated by the desire of the government to make the country as self‐sufficient as possible in case of war, and therefore the whole idea was abnormal and biased. In this country and in the United States the development has followed much sounder lines. In this country the standard of living has become remarkably high, although perhaps somewhat lop‐sided. One might quote the example of bread. The loaf as we know it to‐day is made almost wholly from wheat flour, derived from that portion of the wheat kernel which gives the whitest flour. The Ministry of Health has, I think, been very properly concerned to maintain our high standard and has looked with disfavour on flours which, in order to simulate that particular white portion of the wheat grain, have been bleached. America is the only other country in the world where the people demand white loaves of such delicate and even texture. There much be something very attractive to the public in this type of loaf: some of us remember the fiasco of the standard bread, and members of the bakery trade know what a small proportion of their sales are concerned with brown loaves. The general character of the bread in continental European countries is very different; even the delightful loaves of France, generally well baked, are dark in comparison, although in no sense “ brown ” or “ whole‐meal.” In most countries flours other than wheat are incorporated. We may have to incorporate potato‐flour, but if this is done in any large quantity the resultant loaf has an entirely different texture. It is obvious that the dividing line between the scope of agriculture and that of the food industry is essentially ill‐defined. The importance, however, of the pre‐industrial treatment is such that it is really impossible to dissociate the scientific work of the agriculturalist from that of the industrialist. To quote examples :— Under the aegis of the Food Investigation Board a study has been made of the production of bacon in this country, with remarkably successful results to the farmer, to the bacon‐curer and to the consumer. Similarly the extensive series of experiments carried out by the Food Investigation Board on the storage of fruit has had great success, and the economic effect on the fruit trade, not only here, but also in the Dominions and Colonies cannot be estimated at the moment. An agricultural study of great importance to the housewife was undertaken by the Potato Marketing Board; this was concerned with the blackening of potatoes and was unfortunately not concluded when the war brought a sudden halt to the work. The problem of obtaining “ figures ” for characteristics of food is the most difficult with which the chemist has to deal. There is no method by which palatability can be registered, for it is compounded of many factors which themselves are not possible of measurement. Flavour, appearance and edibility are all concerned. It is comparatively simple to connect softness on the palate of a cream centre of a chocolate with the size of the grain of the sugar crystals, or the smoothness of an ice cream with the size of the ice‐crystals, but to express the texture of a cake in terms measuring the reaction of the palate, or the toughness or tenderness of a beef‐steak are far more difficult. This last example has been considered in some detail. Much work has been done at the Low Temperature Station at Cambridge on methods of judging the tenderness of meat. There is no simple method of reproducing the complicated movement of the jaws in mastication—but the consumer of the steak judges the tenderness by the reactions of his jaws to the muscle fibre, and the problem is complicated by the fact that the judgment of a person with a denture is entirely different from that of a person with his natural teeth; it has been estimated, for example, that the pressure which can be applied during mastication is only, even by those with the most perfect denture, one tenth that of normal. A somewhat complicated instrument has been designed and constructed at the Research Station at Karlsruhe in order to make possible investigations on the problem of the toughness of meat. Sufficient data have not yet been accumulated to pass judgment on its efficiency but it appears to be the most satisfactory attempt yet made to enable definite measurements of the toughness of meat to be determined. These are but examples of the general trend of scientific work in food production and manufacture, examples of the range of subjects and problems being attacked with an ever increasing vigour.


(1941), "British Food Journal Volume 43 Issue 6 1941", British Food Journal, Vol. 43 No. 6, pp. 51-60.




Copyright © 1941, MCB UP Limited

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