In this article I propose to deal only with that legislation which is of a permanent nature and is not likely to be repealed or amended for at least some time to come. Ministry of Food Orders such as those which deal with price controls will be ignored. Most legislation from the public health point of view is dealt with by the Food and Drugs Act, an Act which consolidated, with a few amendments, some of the legislation relating to foods, drugs, markets, slaughterhouses and knackers' yards. Section 9 of the Act makes it an offence for any person (a) to sell or offer or expose for sale or have in his possession for the purpose of sale or of preparation for sale, or (b) to deposit with or consign to any person for the sale or preparation for sale any food which is intended for but unfit for human consumption. It is a defence, however, to prove that the food in question was not intended for human consumption, or at the time it was fit for human consumption, or he did not know and could not, with reasonable diligence, have ascertained that it was unfit for human consumption. It does not matter whether the meat or other foodstuff was originally consigned by the Ministry of Food or purchased in the open market unless the butcher can avail himself of the special defences just mentioned. An authorised officer of the local authority, who is either the medical officer of health, sanitary inspector or veterinary inspector specially appointed for that purpose by the local authority, may, if such food appears to him to be unfit for food, remove it to be dealt with by any Justice of the Peace, and may then report the matter to the local authority, who may institute proceedings against that person. Every piece of meat or other article of foodstuff seized may be dealt with as a separate offence, and for each offence a penalty of £50 may be imposed. The butcher, therefore, if he has any meat, offal, or other foodstuff which he thinks may be diseased or otherwise unsound, should immediately withdraw it from sale and call in the local inspector. Butchers must be registered under Section 14 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938 (not to be confused with a licence issued by the local Food Office), with the local authority, if they carry out on their premises the manufacture or preparation of sausages or potted, pressed, cooked or preserved foods. Failure to be registered renders the butcher liable to prosecution A point of interest arises in this connection. Does a butcher who boils down fat become a fat‐boiler and render his business to be classed as an offensive trade? Legally, he does, but in practice, unless he carries it on on a large scale, it is overlooked. A butcher should make himself familiar with the Imported Meat (Marking) Order, 1941, for any butcher who sells imported meat, as nearly every butcher does, makes himself liable to prosecution unless the following provisions are complied with. This Order prohibits the sale or exposure for sale of any imported (chilled or frozen) beef, mutton, lamb, pork, or edible offals, unless a label or ticket bearing the word “Imported” is affixed to every slab, tray or rail which contains such imported meat, so as to be visible to the purchaser. Where a butcher sends or delivers imported meat to another person, the requirements of this Order are complied with if the invoice or delivery note attached to or accompanying the meat has the word “Imported” marked on it. If the meat itself is clearly marked with the country of origin, e.g., New Zealand or Argentina, it is not necessary to specially label the meat, provided the purchaser is present in the shop at the time of the sale. The provisions of the Public Health (Preservatives, etc., in Food) Regulations, 1925–40, prohibit the use of any preservative or colouring matter in any article of food. However, it is provided by the first Schedule to these regulations that sausages or sausage meat may contain 450 parts per million of sulphur dioxide. Butchers whose premises are in Scotland are allowed, during the months of June, July, August and September, to put 450 parts per million of sulphur dioxide in minced meat. Where the article of food does contain preservative, it must bear a label stating that “these sausages, etc., contain preservative”; the letters being not less than ? in. in height, or there must be a notice in the shop to the effect that the sausages contain preservative.
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