To read this content please select one of the options below:

British Food Journal Volume 51 Issue 4 1949

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 April 1949



It is estimated that in this country alone no less than 2,000,000 tons of food annually is destroyed by reason of the depredations of rats and mice. Neither powers nor organisations existed at the outbreak of war. which were adequate for the purpose of preventing wastage, which, under war conditions, became intolerable. That there was on the Statute Book the Rats and Mice (Destruction) Act, 1919, cannot be denied, but no authority existed for the control of destructive insects and mites in foodstuffs. The powers and duties vested in local authorities under the Rats and Mice (Destruction) Act were of little avail and it was allowed to fall into disuse without alternative provision being made. The control of these several groups of pests has for some years past been dependent on the powers derived from the Defence Regulations and continued under the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act. The profession of the rat catcher is an old and universal one. In 17th century Italy the “ professional ” was recognised by his long pole bearing a square flag on which were representations of cats and mice; the Chinese equivalent bore a sign depicting a cat in a bag. An accepted method of destruction quoted in The Book of Days is one attributed to the Irish, who believed that they could rhyme any beast to death, and in particular the rat. Another prevalent notion was that rats had a presentiment of coming evil and always deserted in time a ship about to be wrecked, or a house about to be flooded or burned. In 1854 it was seriously reported in a Scottish provincial newspaper that the night before a town mill was destroyed by fire the rats belonging to the establishment were met migrating in a body to a neighbouring field. A more scientific approach is now being made to the problem. In August, 1947, a meeting was held in London to discuss the world‐wide problem of losses as a result of damage by insects, fungi and rodents, and to consider the steps to be taken to reduce such losses. Embracing a general consideration of the problem of infestation control, the meeting, convened by Dr. L. E. Kirk, head of the Plant Industry Research Branch, Agriculture Division, F.A.O., covered many phases of the subject, ranging from the economics of the problem to the toxicity of new synthetic insecticides. Accepting the principle that efficient prevention and control of food infestation was essential to the conservation of the world's food supply, the meeting recommended that:—


(1949), "British Food Journal Volume 51 Issue 4 1949", British Food Journal, Vol. 51 No. 4, pp. 31-40.




Copyright © 1949, MCB UP Limited

Related articles