The recent debate in the House of Lords showed that the official plans for milk of better quality, set out in the White Paper three years ago, are only slowly being put into effect. A more active policy was, however, promised by Lord Ammon when labour and plant made it possible. Farmers have come to accept the view that a safe milk supply depends both upon the improvement of animal health and on the heat‐treatment of milk. Some recent figures issued in the Monthly Bulletin of the Ministry of Health show what the pasteurisation of milk has already achieved in reducing the number of deaths among young children from abdominal tuberculosis, a form of the disease which is generally due to tubercle bacillus of bovine origin. In 1921, in the administrative county of London, 136 out of every 1,000,000 children died from this disease. In 1944 the corresponding figure was six. In rural areas the rate in 1921 was 252 and in 1944 still sixty, or ten times the London rate. The London figures for 1944 show a reduction to one‐twenty‐third of the 1921 rate, while for rural areas the reduction is only about one‐quarter. These figures suggest a high degree of correspondence between the increase of pasteurisation and the decrease of mortality from abdominal tuberculosis. In 1944 99 per cent. of London milk supplies was pasteurised; and though more milk has been treated in rural areas and in urban areas outside London during the past twenty years, nothing like the London standard has yet been generally reached. Large towns such as London are at one disadvantage in regard to milk safety in that they receive their supplies in bulk, and samples, before pasteurisation, show a high degree of infection. To this extent rural areas might be expected to have better figures. That they do not would appear to be proof of the greater safety provided by pasteurisation. In the House of Lords debate Lord Rothschild estimated the annual casualties from raw milk contaminated by bovine tuberculosis germs as between 7,000 and 8,000. The case for speedier progress with the provision of pasteurisation plant will be generally endorsed. This development under the auspices of the Ministry of Health needs to be supported by a vigorous effort by the Ministry of Agriculture to build up the health of dairy herds. The problems involved in establishing clean areas, beginning with isolated districts and extending them gradually until in ten or fifteen years' time the whole country is clear of tuberculosis and contagious abortion, were recently discussed in these columns. The Milk Marketing Board, the producers' organisation, has now declared its support for a national drive to clean up the dairy herds; and the Government are assured of general support when a comprehensive plan for ensuring safety in milk is put forward.
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 1946, MCB UP Limited