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

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City of Westminster 1924

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Westminster, City of]

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businesses, especially as regards ventilation and overcrowding. Much of
the tailoring work is given out to be done at home and constant supervision
is required. Stoves for heating irons made the rooms extremely
hot and polluted the air through want of proper methods for carrying off
the fumes from fhe coke or gas which was used. After considerable
experiments in which the officials of the Gas Light & Coke Co. lent
valuable assistance the difficulty was overcome, and stoves for heating
workrooms and irons are seldom now found unventilated. A woman
Sanitary Inspector was appointed to deal specially with workplaces where
women and girls are employed. At the last Census it was found that
318,321 persons, of whom 116,303 were females, are at work in the City
Food Supply.—With so many workers as well as the resident population,
it is of importance that strict supervision should be kept of places where
food is prepared and sold, and also the quality of the food. Great improvements
have been effected in the condition of restaurants and eating
houses in the 24 years. It is difficult to imagine the uncleanly way in
which some of these places were conducted. Frequent and regular
inspection has altered all that. The County Council after a good deal of
urging on the part of the metropolitan borough authorities obtained
parliamentary powers enabling the Borough Councils to deal more
stringently with places where food was prepared for sale, and also where
ice-creams were made. The Factory Act prohibited the further use of
underground bakehouses and required such places as were then in use
to be brought up to a standard. The Public Health Committee visited
them all in order to decide whether or not they should be allowed to
continue. It would have been well had underground kitchens of
restaurants been included in the Act. Further powers for dealing with
all foods to keep them free from contamination from dust and flies, &c.,
are still required. This country is a long way behind ou overseas
Dominions in this respect.
The Council early recognised the importance of taking samples of food
for chemical analysis and decided that 1,800 should be taken each year, at
least half of which should be of milk.
Since 1905 the analysts have graded the samples of milk submitted to
them into four groups:—Good quality, in which the fat was over 3.8 per
cent.; fair quality, in whih the fat was between 3.3 and 3.8 per cent.;
and poor quality, in which the fat was between 3 per cent. (the official
standard) and 3.3 per cent., or in which the non-fatty solids were between
8.5 and 8.6 (if the fat was also below 3.8). Adulterated are those below
the official standard of 3 per cent. for fat and 8.5 for solids not fat.