London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

View report page

Port of London 1912

Report for the year ended 31st December 1912 of the Medical Officer of Health for the Port of London

This page requires JavaScript

The only goods coming under this heading are 4 cwts. 1 qr. 20 lbs. of various
On the 20th July I received a report from the Board of Trade Chief Inspector of
Ships' Provisions, that when inspecting the provisions on the s.s. " Uganda," of Glasgow,
Official Number 121,258, lying in the South West India Dock, he found one tierce of
salt beef (surplus stores) which, in his opinion, was unfit for human consumption.
The meat was accordingly examined by one of your Food Inspectors, who seized it
as unfit for human food. The fact that the meat was unsound and unfit for human
food was brought to the notice of the owners, who were asked to consent to its destruction.
They, however, replied asking to be allowed to remove the meat, and stating that
they had a market for surplus beef on the West Coast of Africa.
This request was refused, and they were informed that unless they consented to the
destruction of the meat it would be taken before a magistrate with a view to obtaining
an order for its destruction. Thereupon they gave their consent to its destruction,
which was carried out in the usual way.
On the 31st October about 850 cases of condensed milk were seized in the Millwall
Dock as being unfit for human food.
I submitted samples to Dr. F. W. Andrewes for examination, and he reported that
he found numerous cells in the milk which were indistinguishable from pus cells,
together with a large number of micro-organisms.
It was evident that the cells and micro-organisms must have been present in the
milk when it was canned, and I therefore took samples of the same brand of milk from
a fresh consignment, which had just arrived, and submitted them to Dr. Andrewes.
His examination revealed the presence of the same cells and the same organisms.
I deemed it desirable to make further investigations, and accordingly various
shipments of machine skimmed milk were sampled and examined by Dr. Andrewes.
He has submitted to me a lengthy report, which is appended herewith.
His conclusions are as follows :—
1. In normal healthy milk, cells are present which are identical with those
of pus. In none of the condensed milks examined did I find these cells in
greater number than might be expected for the natural cellular content of the
The suggestion that such milks contain pus has therefore no warrant.
2. The bacterial content of a large number of the samples examined seems
unnecessarily high. That it is unnecessary is shown by the fact that in
some samples of machine skimmed condensed milk the number of bacteria is
small and their character unobjectionable. It would sppear that the process of
Pasteurisation is in the latter case adequately, and in the former case
inadequately, carried out.
To set up any numerical standard in this respect might prove difficult if it
were shown that bacteria multiply in condensed milk, because the number
would vary with the age of the sample.

Diagnostics: Check ALTO | Check in player