The effect of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1953, on habits and customs in the food and drug trades may prove greater than is immediately obvious. The scope of the earlier Merchandise Marks Acts (1887 to 1938) is greatly widened, first by their extension to trade descriptions which are “misleading”, and, secondly, by roping in trade descriptions of quality and descriptions of “fitness for purpose, strength, performance or behaviour ”. The standard of “quality” is to be based on “a classification commonly used or recognised in the trade”. These extensions are to come into effect on January 31st, 1954. Meanwhile, manufacturers of food and drugs may well need to reconsider the wording of their advertisements and labels—for there is no exemption in favour of what has hitherto passed as legitimate, if somewhat exaggerated, puffing. Manufacturers of proprietary medicines, in particular, and of special brands of infants' and invalids' foods may need to exercise more restraint if they are to keep on the right side of the law—though it is, of course, a fact that peaceful persuasion by the Labelling Division of the Ministry of Food during the past ten years has accomplished much by securing the modification of extravagant claims which might be held by a court of law to be misleading.
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