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

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Chelsea 1960

Annual report of the Medical Officer of Health for the year 1960

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The sample was satisfactory. A can of corned beef contained what
appeared to be a portion of a bluebottle, but part of the body was
missing. The contamination must have taken place in the canning
factory, probably in a machine.
A steak and kidney pie contained areas of mould affecting the
pie on the outside upper crust and the inside of the pie on the pastry
and pastry/meat interface. The mould growth consisted of a Penicillium
species and an unidentified mould of the Fusarium type. If the pie
had been kept cold at least seven days would have been required for
this stage of growth to be reached but if kept at normal temperature
under the then weather conditions it could have been reached in four
A sample of Pale Ale was contaminated with yeast and mould
growth. This contamination sometimes occurs through the rubber gasket
on the stopper not having been properly washed and although in this
case the gasket appeared to be in good condition it had not been fitted
properly onto the stopper. There was also a chip on the inside of the
neck of the bottle.
Adverse comment was made on two samples of soup powder. They
were considered to be incorrectly labelled as, in your analyst's
opinion, they should be labelled "Appetizer Soups" since the
concentration of the prepared soups are only half that of corresponding
canned soups, and the calorific value of the Lobster Bisk was only
72 calories per 250 mis., approximately half pint portion, while that
of the Vegetable Soup was only 56 calories.
One complaint concerned the condition of tinned Asparagus which
possessed an unpleasant smell when heated. A portion of the cooked
asparagus mixture was submitted and this had undergone some bacterial
decomposition. The odour was unpleasant and a smear showed a massed
mixed bacterial flora, but it was impossible to state whether this
bacterial decomposition had occurred before or after opening the tin.
Had the asparagus been bad in the can one would expect it to have been
decomposed and it was not.
Another complaint concerned a Dundee cake which was thought to
be contaminated with paint. The foreign matter submitted was examined
and consisted of pieces of burnt vegetable tissue. The bulk of this
tissue contained starch and was evidently from a seed or nut, which could
not be readily identified. It was a high oil containing nut, probably
almond or walnut.
Some ice lollies had made children feel ill, but examination
revealed no excess of lead, zinc or arsenic. The dye was a permitted
colour, and the pH was 3ยป17o Similar cases had been reported elsewhere,
but no explanation could be found for the circumstances and the samples
were reported as satisfactory.
Some tomatoes were submitted because the complainant alleged
that they were covered with a chemical powder which affected the taste

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