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

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London County Council 1900

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

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Dairies, Cowsheds and Milkshops.
On the 9th November, 1900, the enforcement of the regulations relating to milkshop
premises and the registration of milk vendors was transferred from the County Council
to the metropolitan borough councils, and during the year there were 16,620 inspections
of milk shop premises. During the year 1900, up to and including the 9th
November, the number of applications for registration was 1,386. Of these, 320 applications
were for premises not previously entered on the Council's register. In 22
instances legal proceedings were instituted under the Dairies, Cowsheds, and Milkshops'
Orders, and penalties amounting to £42 7s. and £16 12s. costs were imposed by the
magistrates. In 226 instances cases of infectious disease were reported to have occurred in
registered milkshop premises, the number of cases of such disease being 100 of scarlet fever, 77
of diphtheria, 35 of enteric fever, 13 of erysipelas, 1 of smallpox, and 4 of measles. In each of
these cases the inspectors visited the premises with a view to ensuring the adoption of measures
to prevent contamination of the milk. There were 321 applications for licences for cowsheds, all
of which were granted. Nine licences lapsed during the year.
During the year Dr. Klein examined for tubercle bacilli 97 samples of milk taken in
London, but coming from the country. Seven of these samples were found to contain tubercle
bacilli. Of these seven samples, three were derived from milk coming from Essex, one each
of the remaining four from Surrey, Sussex, Derbyshire and Wiltshire. The Public Health
Committee communicated with the sanitary authorities, and asked if, in accordance with the
recommendations of the Eoyal Commission on Tuberculosis, they would supply the Council with
full information and veterinary reports regarding the condition of the cows, byres, &c., whence
the milk came. Of the seven authorities, two sent reports of their sanitary inspectors, a third
offered to obtain a veterinary surgeon's report at the Council's expense, a fourth authority had
the cows examined by a veterinary surgeon, who did not find any of them to be suffering from
tubercular disease of the udder. This authority asked the Council to repay the veterinary
surgeon's fee. A letter was also addressed to 374 sanitary authorities in the home counties,
asking them if they would supply full information and veterinary reports when tuberculous milk
was found to be supplied to London from cows within their districts. To this inquiry 64
authorities replied in the affirmative without conditions, and 12 agreed to do so if the London
County Council would pay for the veterinarv inspection; in four instances the reply was in the
negative. On the recommendation of the Public Health Committee the Council resolved to ask
the Board of Agriculture to take steps to render the periodical examination of the udders of cows
by veterinary surgeons obligatory throughout the country.

The following table shows the conditions found in cows there examined—

Number of cows examined.Number of cows found free from defects of udder.Clinically affected with tubercular disease of the uddei.Suspected casts of tubercular disease of the udder.Subjects of acute mastitis.Affected with chronic induration of udder.Giving evidence of atrophy of one or more quarters.Injuries, abscesses, simple eruptions, strictures and obliterations of milk ducts.Hypertro-phied udders without induration.Giving milk of poor quality (dried-off cows).Recovered or removed from premises.Total number affected with disease or defects of the udder.

In respect of each cow found to be suffering from tubercular disease of the udder the owner
was informed that the cow was so suffering. Milk from some of the other cows was examined by
Dr. Klein, and one sample was found to contain tubercle bacilli. The Dairies, Cowsheds, and
Milkshops Order of 1899 only prohibits the sale of milk from a cow so certified, and leaves the
animal in possession of the cowkeeper. The second Royal Commission on Tuberculosis recommended
that " when under the certificate of a veterinary surgeon the sale of milk from a given
" cow is prohibited, the local authority should slaughter the same, and if, on post-mortem
" examination, it appears that the cow was not so affected the local authority should pay com"
pensation to the full value of the cow immediately before slaughter." The adoption of this
course is evidently necessary for the protection of the consumer.