Since March 16th the ban on the use of soya in the manufacture of sausages has been removed. The lifting of this restriction, which has been in force since 1946, will be welcomed by some manufacturers who claim that soya is an excellent binding agent. We are doubtful, however, whether these sentiments will be shared by all public analysts, many of whom are of the opinion that the presence of soya in a sausage renders the determination of the meat content if not wholly impossible at best a series of long and tedious processes, the accuracy of which would seem to be a matter of some controversy. Upon our enquiry about this divergency of opinion to the Ministry of Food, we were told that the Ministry were quite satisfied that the new Order could be properly enforced, in other words we assume this to mean that they consider the presence of soya does not prevent the accurate determination of the meat content. This was the answer one would expect to receive from the authority who framed the Meat Products Order, but it is none the less surprising to recall that only a very short while ago the Ministry were of the reverse opinion. In May 1950 a report was published in this Journal of a case heard before Old Street Magistrates. The defendants were summoned under The Meat Products, Canned Soup and Canned Meat (Control and Maximum Prices) Order, 1946, for selling sausages which contained soya. The Order stated that no persons should manufacture or sell any sausage, slicing sausage or sausage meat which to his knowledge contained any soya product. The prosecuting solicitor, for the Ministry of Food, said that it was necessary under the Order of 1946 for sausages to contain a minimum meat content, and if soya flour were used to bind the sausage it was not possible upon analysis to determine the meat content. It would be interesting to know whether the results of research during the past two years have made available new and efficient methods of examination which justify this change of viewpoint. We are advised, however, that if soya is present the amount of meat cannot be accurately assessed, and, moreover, the percentage error of this determination is likely to be directly related to the percentage of soya in the sausage. Thus it would seem possible that this new piece of legislation provides an added incentive to an unscrupulous manufacturer to prepare his mix with a lower meat content than that prescribed and to make up the balance with soya: a practice which would enable him to make more sausages than his honest competitor, and which would probably be difficult to expose.
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