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

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City of London 1963

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

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design which come readily to mind. We wonder how often the manufacturers of such articles
return to premises where their products are in use to ascertain the existence of any shortcomings.
Presumably there is a modicum of co-operation between the caterers and the manufacturers but
obviously it is not sufficient to prevent the continued marketing of equipment which has always
had inherent defects. Furthermore, with the wide range of materials now available, one would
have thought that the time has come finally to abandon the use of galvanised iron in the manufacture
of any article which is intended for use in a restaurant kitchen.
Ventilation is the most difficult technical problem with which we have to contend, and the
efficient ventilation of dining rooms and kitchens, particularly in basement restaurants, continues
to be a somewhat intractable problem, the solution of which seems to baffle many of the experts.
As a result, unfortunately, one is seldom successful in achieving optimum conditions. Undoubtedly
this deficiency is caused in many instances by ventilating engineers basing their calculations
on standards which experience of working conditions in a multitude of catering establishments
has proved to be too low. A further difficulty arises from the fact that frequently ventilating
engineers are requested to submit their proposals before the design of the kitchen has been
completed. Obviously, unless accurate information is available as to the siting and quantity
and type of cooking equipment to be installed, it is impossible to design an efficient ventilating
system. A further limiting factor in the constant quest for good ventilation is the general reluctance
on the part of caterers and their advisers to expend more than an absolute minimum on the
installation of mechanical ventilating plant. We would suggest for the consideration of the higher
executives of the large catering companies that inadequate, inefficient, ventilating plants are
wasteful and that expenditure on first class plant would secure a good return on capital outlay by
reducing staff costs. It has been found that staff work better where they are provided with good
working conditions, and furthermore there is a reduction in the rate of staff turnover which is a
common source of worry, expense and frustration to most City caterers. In addition, comfortable
conditions in the dining rooms and other parts of the premises frequented by members of the public
would eliminate the dissatisfaction often expressed by customers at the present time.
On a number of occasions we have had to investigate complaints regarding pieces of glass in
food. Not every instance has resulted in injury to the complainant but these incidents raise the
problem as to how far such accidents can be avoided as in every case the trouble arose from some
accidental circumstance. Glassware is an excellent material for many purposes connected with
catering but great care is necessary in its use and the circumstances under which it is used.
Ideally, operations such as washing-up should be effectively separated from food preparation, and
electric light fittings should be so positioned that in the event of damage the shattered pieces
would not fall into food containers or on to exposed food. It would seem that a little thought on
this problem on the part of caterers would eliminate the cause of most of the complaints which
have been made to us.
In our efforts to discharge our duties efficiently it is inevitable that we should be critical of
many things, but nevertheless we would like to commend some of the established caterers in the
City who have become aware of the advantages to be derived from securing first class conditions
in their premises and who spare no effort to obtain the best advice and to ensure that as they
extend their activities and open new premises, the kitchens, staff amenities and arrangements
generally are such that they, and we also, can be justly proud of their restaurants. It is also fair
to point out that notwithstanding the numerous verbal and written representations which have
been made during the course of the year regarding a multitude of unsatisfactory conditions, it has
not been found necessary to institute legal proceedings in a single instance, although sometimes,
probably because of circumstances and difficulties beyond the control of the caterer, action to
effect necessary improvements or to carry out essential works of maintenance has not always been
taken as swiftly as we would have wished. We are also glad to be able to say that generally we
have not experienced any opposition on the part of City caterers to the opinions we have expressed as
to what we consider necessary and desirable to comply with statutory requirements, and we think
that most City caterers are willing to conform even though at times their good intentions are not
matched with comparative resolute action."
These Regulations re-enact with amendments the Flour (Composition) Regulations, 1956,
prescribing requirements as to the composition of flour. They also amend the Arsenic in Food
Regulations, 1959 as amended, by providing that the maximum amount of arsenic permitted in
reduced iron intended for use in the preparation of flour shall be 5 ppm.
The following is a summary of the new provisions incorporated in these Regulations -
(1) Permitted ingredients are prescribed for different kinds of bread.
(2) Labelling and advertising is controlled.
(3) Restrictions are imposed on claims that any bread, biscuits or cereal foods are starch
reduced or can aid slimming. Claims that such foods have specific weight reducing
properties are prohibited.