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

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Hammersmith 1967

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hammersmith Borough]

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Food Legislation in 1967
the year 1967 has been a busy one for food legislation and it is probable that some of the
regulations issued will cause trouble in their exact interpretation. Fortunately the most controversial
regulations do not come into force until mid-1969 or 1971, so that there is time for second
thoughts before they are put into operation.
The Labelling of Food Regulations, 1967, largely cover the same ground as the Labelling of
Food Order, 1953, as amended; but the general exemption from a declaration of ingredients for
which there is a statutory standard, is withdrawn and the Schedule listing foods, which are partly
exempt from labelling requirements has been drawn up in a clearer fashion than previously.
Many minor food ingredients may henceforth be declared under general descriptions with the word
"Permitted' preceding them. The size of print to be employed on labels is still slightly confusing
and it will remain to be seen how this is applied in practice. It will be necessary to describe the
commoner types of fish correctly in future and many housewives will be surprised at the names
given to various kinds of fish, which they have previously bought under more respectable names.
These regulations do not deal with misleading claims and descriptions, which are to be the subject
of another order, a draft of which was circulated during the year. Unfortunately there is a
slight overlap in the two sets of regulations, but as regulations can be amended more easily
than can Acts of Parliament, there is little doubt that this overlap will be cleared up in a few
The Coffee and Coffee Roducts Regulations, 1967, supersede the previous regulations
controlling coffee mixtures and coffee essences, and lay down standards for dry and liquid
extracts of coffee, for coffee and chicory, and for Viennese coffee or coffee with fig and extracts
prepared therefrom, as well as for decaffeinated coffee. The descriptions by which these various
foods are to be known are also prescribed.
The Ice-Cream Rsgulations, 1967, largely re-enact the Food Standards (Ice-Cream) Rsgulations,
1959. The new regulations contain a definition of ice-cream and make it necessary to label
the ice-cream with the words "Contains non-milk fat" or "Contains vegetable fat* if fat other than
milk fat is present.
The Food (Control of Irradiation) Regulations, 1967, prohibit the use of ionising radiation
to food intended for human consumption as a general principle, but low strength radiation may be
employed under certain circumstances.
The Margarine Regulations, 1967, largely re-enact the Food Standards (Margarine) Order,
1954, and the Food Standards (Butter and Margarine) Order, 1955, but tighten the labelling requirements.
The Canned Meat Product Regulations, 1967, the Sausage and Other Meat Product Regulations,
1967, and the Meat Pie and Sausage Roll Regulations, 1967 were necessary regulations
to be issued, but the difficulties involved are such that these regulations have provoked intense
controversy. Fortunately the canned meat and the sausage regulations do not come into operagroblems
involved, but your Analyst has given considerable thought to these regulations and
believes that the only satisfactory method of dealing with certain meat products would be to
believes that the only satisfactory method of dealing with certain meat products would be to
have an omnibus regulation permitting products to contract out of the regulations so long as they
stated in large lettering what percentage of meat is contained in the pack, this information being
adjacent to the main name of the article on the label and also being mentioned in any advertise
ments. Several products for which standards are now provided have only recently been introduced
and it would be absurd to crush manufacturing initiative, though care must be taken to inform the
public what they are buying.
The Merchandise Marks (Imported Goods) No.7 Order, 1934 Amendment Order, 1967, makes
provision for the sale of meat in small pre-packed containers and requires each of them to be
marked with the country of origin of the meat. This order has disturbed packers of such prepacked
articles, but as they are often pre-packed before distributing to the retail shops it is a
necessary regulations.
The Solvents in Food Regulations, 1967, provide a list of permitted solvents primarily
for flavourings added to foods, and prescribe standards for these. It was found impossible to
lay down a list of ingredients for the flavourings themselves, but the provision of a permitted
list of solvents takes care of those substances present in the largest quantities in flavourings.
The Artificial Sweeteners in Food Regulations, 1967, became necessary in order to allow
for the use of cyclamates as artificial sweeteners. Whilst cyclamates may become popular for
tablets for beverages it is still doubtful whether they will be useful in foods such as diabetic
jams, as they possess no preservative action.