In addition to the quarterly reports which public analysts are required to furnish to Food and Drugs Authorities, some analysts take a deal of trouble over annual reports, many of which often contain useful information. To those who are good enough to send us copies the British Food Journal tenders its thanks. It is realised, of course, that such reports are intended mainly for perusal by lay folk, as well as by those professionally concerned, in the various localities for which the analysts act. For that reason, and at the risk of being criticised for ungracious conduct, we feel impelled to offer the suggestion that care should invariably be taken to avoid the presentation of facts in such a manner as may be calculated to mislead the ordinary reader. There is ample scope, in our view, for further instructions or advice to be issued by the Ministry concerned with respect to foods and drugs respectively. For example, all statistical tables relating to samples of milk would be much more informative if the reports clearly distinguished between samples taken from bottles distributed to the public by retailers, samples from producer‐retailers and samples procured from farmers’ churns. There is little point in wrestling with elaborate and complicated tables of figures showing percentages of “ adulterated ” samples or the average composition of samples examined in various years and in various areas if the reader is left in ignorance of the circumstances in which the samples of milk have been procured. The public analyst of one large authority, which need not here be named, takes great trouble to discover the so‐called “ adulteration rate ” in the areas of several other authorities, and appears to have or to give the impression that a low rate of unsatisfactory samples of food and drugs in his area is a reassuring sign. Our own view is that it is nothing of the kind. What matters most, as we repeat with a regularity which is a bit monotonous, is the system adopted to select and obtain samples for analysis. If the sampling officers obtain, perhaps more or less at random, substantial numbers of samples of arrowroot, bacon, barley, blancmange powder, saccharin tablets, salt, semolina, sugar, treacle and tea, the so‐called adulteration rate is not likely to be so high as in an area where the sampling officers interest themselves more closely in spread bread‐and‐butter and hot milk at cafés, ice‐cream, “ butter sweets ” and sausages. To avoid misconception, we must add that we do not consider that the articles in this last group of foods are the most important that could with advantage be sampled— but it is a group the sampling of which in recent days has resulted in the discovery of numerous infringements.
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