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

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Lewisham 1952

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

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Food work generally
In commenting on the work generally, Mr. Thomas, the group
food inspector states:—"The year was marked by a continuance of
the growing interest on the part of the public in clean food, no doubt
stimulated by the prominence given by the Press to this matter and to
the reports on cases of food poisoning which occurred during the year.
In this respect Lewisham fortunately had only 33 cases reported and
these were of a minor character. Investigation of such cases would
be helped considerably by an early visit to the doctor on the part of
the patient, and prompt notification to this department.
" Food samples taken during the year showed that the degree of
adulteration was very low. Out of 826 taken only 3 were found to be
adulterated. As is well known, the adulteration of food was rampant
at the beginning of the century and it is likely that not enough credit
for the improvement has been given to the hard work and zeal shown by
food and drugs inspectors in the past. The fact that it is known that
samples are still taken no doubt helps maintain this situation.
"The standard of icecream sold in the borough was generally
satisfactory. Chemical analysis showed that the constituents were
well above the legal standard. The tests for bacterial purity were
uniformly good in the case of the wellknown brands; the smaller
manufacturers need rather more attention as they have not the same
equipment and facilities. It was found that these manufacturers were
very ready to cooperate and adopt recommendations made to them.
"During the year lectures were given to adult schools, schools, and
similar organisations. These were well received and considerable
interest was shown by the audiences.
"Attention should be drawn to a fundamental factor in the work
of food inspectors — the ability to deal with a perishable commodity
without delay. No difficulty of this nature was experienced during
the year."
Dogs in food shops
In circular MF 20/51 issued by the Ministry of Food, it was stated
that the Minister in answer to a question in the House of Commons
had stated:—"I agree that dogs should not be allowed in food shops.
It is a most unhygienic practice. But I cannot feel that I would have
any great success if I tried to stop it by prohibitive regulation. Here
is a problem more likely to be solved by voluntary action and I appeal
to the public and the food trade to cooperate in keeping dogs out of
their shops."
It was further stated in the circular that in the opinion of the
Minister, the encouragement of food traders to display notices issued
by local authorities and signed by medical officers of health requesting
customers not to bring dogs into their premises would be a practical
step to a higher standard of food hygiene. The Minister's recommendation
was supported by representative bodies of the retail food
trades and local authority associations.