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British Food Journal Volume 50 Issue 2 1948

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 1 February 1948


The Public Analyst for the County of Lancaster in his report for 1946 to the County Council refers at some length to matters—analytical and administrative—relating to the milk supply. Up to the year 1940 the work of taking samples for purposes of analysis under the Food and Drugs Act was done by the police, but in that year it was transferred to the County Sanitary Authority. Four assistant inspectors now “deal with the growing volume of work and to restore it to its pre‐war level.” The difficulties in obtaining adequate supplies of the necessary materials during the war were acute—and still exist though happily in a less acute form—and the shortage of help—both skilled and un‐skilled—are too well known to need more than passing reference. These led, in many cases, to products of the ersatz or “make‐do” variety being put on the market. The public health authorities were in much the same position with regard to help. Thus there was a serious drop in the number of samples submitted. In normal conditions the total number of all samples for the county is about five thousand per year. During the 1914 to 1918 period it fell to about 4,800. But in the altogether abnormal conditions that prevailed during the last war the number of samples dropped steadily from 5,157 in 1938 to 1,731 in 1945. In 1938, 3,304 formal samples were submitted and 1,853 informal samples. But the proportion of informal to formal samples increased and approximate equality was obtained in 1945—870 formal to 861 informal—and in the year 1946, 1,648 formal to 2,046 informal. The war years were marked by an increase in the percentage of adulteration though this increase was irregular. It was 3·6 per cent. in 1939. It rose to a maximum of 9·3 in 1941. It now stands— 1946—at 7·6. The figures for the 1914 to 1918 period tell the same tale. We may suppose that informal sampling followed by warning, if such need arose, exercised a useful check on the activities of those who sought to profit by the unusual conditions. The figures just quoted refer to samples of all kinds including milk, and milk is no exception to the rule that the fewer the samples submitted for analysis, or in other words the less strict the supervision of the milk supply, the greater the amount of adulteration. It is only within recent years that the importance to the nation of a plentiful supply of clean and unadulterated milk has been adequately recognized by public health authorities. It is within the writer's personal experience and no doubt of many of his contemporaries that the very modest standards—so called—of 3 per cent. fat and 8·5 solids‐not‐fat were not often exceeded, sometimes not attained, while the chances were even that some preservative would be found in any given sample. Cowsheds, buildings, and livestock were often in a state that would not favourably impress a present‐day inspector. Milk in fact was not “taken seriously.” The quality of the milk supply was a subject for perennial popular jests. Milk was a pleasant addition to a cup of tea; as an ingredient of an occasional milk pudding; mixed with water it was a beverage at the nursery tables of the well‐to‐do. But the children in the poorer quarters of the cities probably never had a fair drink of milk from one year's end to another. As milk was not then regarded, as it is now, a prime essential of a child's well being; such children were, at least as far as their milk ration was concerned, half starved. Now the importance of milk is fully recognized by all health authorities. Out of a total of 4,122 Food and Drug samples 2,669 were milk. 428 milk samples are called private samples. These were taken from consignments delivered to schools, county institutions, British Restaurants and so forth. 339 were taken at schools. The adulterated samples were only 4 per cent. as against 10·2 per cent. for the whole country. “The results cannot be regarded as unsatisfactory.”


(1948), "British Food Journal Volume 50 Issue 2 1948", British Food Journal, Vol. 50 No. 2, pp. 11-20.




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