From time to time we report cases of food being sold under false and misleading descriptions, where the defence claims the consumer is really expecting too much for her money; like Pip, she has “great expectations.” The sale of food and drugs abounds with deceptive descriptions and devices; clever, subtle, attractive and far more extensively practised than in the old days when analysts and inspectors sought out the adulteration of food. Their annual reports contain the more lurid examples, which are but a fraction of the whole. The price of genuine products has risen out of all proportion in recent years and the introduction of artificial and synthetic materials in substitution is regrettably inevitable, but the importation of price into the offence of misdescription is likely to bring to confusion law that is probably more complete than ever before. It is the essence of all false descriptions that they should in fact mislead, but it is garnishing the point to suggest as many a defending counsel and not a few magistrates do, that the price paid must be taken into account in any alleged misdescription; that if it is low for such an expensive commodity as “cream,” then a purchaser should not be deceived into believing she was obtaining genuine cream, even if the name “cream” was being applied. As the County Magistrates at Leicester were recently asked to decide, “Who would expect real cream in a fourpenny cream bun ?” (p. 70). Still less so, if a fancy name such as “Kreem” is used; all this, Section 47, Food and Drugs Act, 1955, notwithstanding. In the case quoted, evidence was called to show that if a shopper requires a cream bun containing real cream, she will ask for a “dairy cream bun” and that the witnesses would only expect to receive the genuine article if they went to a dairy; that when buying cream confectionery from a confectioner's shop, they did not expect to receive anything but imitation cream.
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