Mr. Maurice Webb made a very bad start when he became Minister of Food. He announced that his ambition was to increase the meat‐content of sausages, and, soon afterwards, it was found that he had “been and gone and done it”. The result, of course, was to increase the scarcity of sausages and to decrease the quantity of meat consumed in that form. There were two views about this strange episode. Some held that it was just an error, begotten by enthusiasm out of inexperience. Others were of opinion that the whole thing was a Machiavellian device to reduce meat‐consumption while offering an illusory boon to sausage‐eaters. It is not for me to express my personal view on this. But at least Mr. Webb made it clear that he was not likely to succumb to the sleeping sickness which for many years afflicted the Local Government Board and the Ministry of Health in everything that concerned the enactment of food standards and definitions. Dr. Hamill, the late Dr. Coutts and their colleagues used to produce quite admirable reports and recommendations, the fate of which was usually to be put in a pigeon‐hole and forgotten. Without spilling more beans or lamenting over spilt milk, I can hand Mr. Webb a bouquet on his new approach to the problem of food standards, as exemplified in the recent orders affecting ice‐cream and cream. The minimum percentage of fat prescribed— a little apologetically—for ice‐cream is to be lower than the 8 per cent advocated over a long series of years by enthusiastic dieticians with the approval of many of the people engaged in producing and selling ice‐cream. My own experience is that the views of scientific experts often require modification in the light of economic circumstances. When the Public Assistance Committee of a County Council asked my opinion on a suggestion by a medical superintendent that sausages bought for inmates should contain not less than 70 per cent of pork, I had little hesitation in advising against so extravagant a proposal. And now the report of the Ministry's Food Standards Committee on cream contains an appendix which shows that the Committee, before framing, its recommendations, considered evidence from representatives of Government Departments, Associations of Local Authorities, three Embassies (Danish, Royal Netherlands and Irish), as well as from seven national and regional milk marketing organisations, three agricultural bodies, and a long list of manufacturing and distributive associations, including those of the grocery, catering and confectionery trades, and the National Institute for Research in Dairying. The result of all this consultation is a well‐thought‐out scheme which, so far as I can see, is hardly open to any criticism, for putting the trade in cream, when it is resumed, on a thoroughly sound foundation. “ Single ” cream is to be easily pourable and is to contain not less than 18 per cent of milk fat. “ Double ” cream with good whipping qualities is to have not less than 48 per cent fat, a figure which is to apply also to clotted cream. So when the strawberry season arrives one hopes to be able to avoid the fate of recent years, when it has been necessary to choose between imported evaporated milk of an offensively deep yellow colour and a cream‐substitute containing vegetable oils and sodium alginate. With approval also I note that the Food Standards Committee proposes to submit a further report on “ artificial ” and “ synthetic ” cream, I always thought it unfortunate that the word “artificial” should be applied to the substance which was made by disintegrating butter, imported at great cost from Australia, and reconverting it into cream which could be marketed at a lower price than natural dairy cream produced in a raw state in Great Britain. The original Artificial Cream Act was presumably passed at the request of British dairy farmers. It would seem wise now to adopt the suggestion put forward by the catering trade that the word “reconstituted” should replace “artificial” as the appropriate adjective here. The word “artificial” could then be attached to a product containing no milk fat, rather than the word “synthetic”, which conveys little or no meaning to the average purchaser.
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