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

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London County Council 1896

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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poultry. The seizures were made in Fulham. Westminster, Chelsea, Marylebone, St. Pancras, Hackney,
St. Giles, Strand, Holborn, St. Luke, City, Shoreditch, Bethnal-green, Whitechapel, St. George-in-theEast,
Limehouse, Mile-end Old-town, Poplar, St. Saviour Southwark, St. George Southwark, St
Olave, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Battersea, Wandsworth, (Clapham, Wandsworth) Camberwell,.
Greenwich (Greenwich, Deptford), Woolwich.
In the City, 915 tons of meat were seized in the markets, 82 per cent, of this meat having
become putrid, and 12 per cent, being diseased. The medical officer of health recommends the appointment
of additional inspectors. Prosecutions were instituted in 9 cases, fines were inflicted in 6, and
in three the def ndants were sent to prison for periods varying from one to three months. Fish to the
amount of 1,212 tons was condemned and destroyed by the " fish meters " of the Fishmongers' Company.
The work done by the special meat inspector appointed in Holborn leads to the conclusion that
a large amount of unsound meat must previously have passed through that district. During the year
1896, 7,131 stones of diseased meat and 5,381 stones of decomposed meat wrere seized, and this amount
is independent of the offal which was seized. The medical officer of health reports that of 248 seizures
of diseased meat in 86 cases, or one-third, the carcases were tuberculous. In numerous instances legal
proceedings were instituted. The extent of these is shown by the fact that during the year the medical
officer of health attended various courts of law on 116 separate occasions. He states that the amount of
diseased meat seized in the first quarter of the year was less than one fourth of the amount seized
during the corresponding period of the preceding year, and he adds that since Easter, 1897, when one
of the meat salesmen was sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour, without the option
of a fine, there have been very few seizures of diseased meat. The excellent work done in Holborn in
connection with meat inspection deserves recognition ; it is matter of the greatest importance that it
ahould be continued, for any relaxation of the vigilance of the sanitary authority would no doubt lead
to the re-development of the diseased meat trade in this district. So long as the premises of meat
salesmen are constantly visited by the officers of the sanitary authority, the trade in diseased meat can
be less readily carried on, it cannot, however, prevent the consignment of diseased meat from the
country direct to retail vendors nor to those who manufacture sausages. In Poplar (Bow), a sausage
manufacturer was fined £150, and in default of payment was sent to prison for having on his premises
unsound meat which was being cut up at the time of seizure. Other seizures were made in this district.
In Mile-end Old-town 2 tons of unsound food were seized on premises, which were partly used
as a cheap eating house.
In Shoreditch unsound bief which was seized on a stall was alleged to have been purchased in
the meat market.
Unsound meat was seized in private slaughterhouses on two occasions, viz., the carcase of a
tuberculous cow in Mile-end Old-town, and the carcases of pigs in Battersea.
Tinned food amongst other articles was seized in St. Giles, St. Olave, and St. Pancras. The
medical officer of the last district states that much of the tinned foods in the cheaper markets is derived
from old ships' stores ; he suggests that there would be advantage in a requirement " that all tins
containing tinned food shall have stamped upon the bottom the date of tinning."
The manufacture and sale of ice-cream.
In my last report I stated that a representation had been made to the Local Government Board
by the Clerkenwell Vestry and some other London sanitary authorities, asking for legislation to provide
for the registration of vendors of ice-cream, and for the regulation of the conditions under which icecream
is manufactured. The annual reports of medical officers of health show that the public health
committee of the Vestry of Westminster, after considering a report by their medical officer, came to
the conclusion that it was urgent and necessary that the vendors of ice-cream should be registered.
The medical officer of health of Deptford made an inspection of all premises in the district where icecream
was made and stored, and " found all in a fairly satisfactory condition." A register was made of
such places. In Limehouse samples of ice-cream were submitted to analysis, and the analysis did not
reveal, so far as the ingredients went, anything of a deleterious nature. " Evidence of the unsatisfactory
surroundings under which these delicacies were prepared was, however, abundantly present, and led to an
inspection of the ice-cream shops in the district. A regular inspection of these premises will now be
Water Supply.

The report of the water examiner appointed under the Metropolis Water Act, 1871, supplies the following information as to the capacity of the subsidence reservoirs, and the monthly average rate of filtration of the several companies in 1896—

Number of days' supply.Monthly rate of filtration per square foot per hour.
Mean monthly average. Gallons.Maximum monthly average. Gallons.
East London20.31.331.33
Grand Junction3.41.671.90
New River4.72.72.50
Southwark and Vauxhall4.11.501.50
West Middlesex13.81.341.50

As to storage reservoirs, Major-General Scott writes—
" The river-deriving companies, with one exception, are actually engaged in constructing, or in
making arrangements for the construction of, additional storage reservoirs. The Chelsea Company