Local authorities do not always like to have the exercise of their discretionary powers fettered by a veto from “Whitehall”. But it seems right to state that Food and Drugs Authorities found the Labelling Division of the Ministry of Food extremely helpful when they were faced with the problem of instituting proceedings in respect of false or misleading labels and advertisements relating to foods. It will be remembered that Section 6 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, empowered Food and Drugs Authorities to institute such prosecutions without restriction; but that, when the Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations were made in 1943, Section 6 was suspended and prosecutions for labelling and advertising offences could only be taken under the Regulations with the assent of the Minister. For this there was an excellent reason—namely, that the Labelling Division of the Ministry proposed to give definite advice to manufacturers and packers, and it was clearly undesirable that local authorities should find themselves faced with a defence based on official advice so given. In fact, an enormous number of labels were submitted for approval to the Ministry for several years—until the unhappy decision was made, a year or so back, to discontinue the labelling advisory service. An additional reason for depriving local authorities of full discretion was the danger that a maker or packer of food might find himself prosecuted over and over again in various parts of the country for what was essentially one offence.
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