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

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Leyton 1904

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Leyton]

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A small deputation of the South Essex Master Bakers' Association
waited on me to obtain my opinion as to the danger, if any, to
public health entailed by the custom of changing stale loaves for fresh.
I strongly deprecate the practice, certainly with regard to the poorer
quarters of the district. When the loaves arrive fresh on Saturday,
the chances are the occupier is busy, and sends her children to bring
in the supply, which is thereupon handled sometimes by the dirtiest of
hands, and placed anywhere in the house, few, indeed, being able to
afford the luxury of a bread pan. There the loaves are allowed to lie
about, when not wanted, collecting dust germs, and on Monday are
handed back to the baker. One such case occurred where there was
a case of typhoid in the house, and I trust some measures may be
taken to stop the custom, which might at any time convey disease in
the above manner from one house to another.
We have been greatly assisted this year by the passing by the
Council of the three Acts dealing with the Sale of Ice-creams, the
Milk Supply, and Infectious Diseases. Much illness, especially
diarrhoea, might be brought about among young children by the
absorption by them of impure ice-cream, and the following Act has
certainly awakened vendors to a sense of their responsibility to their
many small customers in this matter. The Act provides that:—
"Any person being a manufacturer or vendor of or merchant
"or dealer in ice-creams or other similar commodity who within
"the district (A) Causes or permits ice-creams or any similar
"commodity or any materials used in the manufacture thereof to
"be manufactured sold or stored in any cellar room or place
"which is in a condition likely to render such commodity injurious
"to health or in which there is an inlet or opening to a drain;
"or (B) In the manufacture sale or storage of any such commodity
"does any act or thing likely to expose such commodity to
"infection or contamination or omits to take any proper pre"caution
for the due protection of such commodity from infection
"or contamination; or (C) Omits on the outbreak of any infectious
"disease amongst the persons employed in his business to give
"notice thereof to the Medical Officer of Health shall be liable
"for every such offence on summary conviction to a penalty not
"exceeding forty shillings. Power is also given to the Medical
"Officer of Health in the event of any inmate suffering from
"infectious disease in any building in which any ice-cream or
"commodity is manufactured or stored to seize and destroy all ice"cream
or similar commodity or materials for the manufacture of
"same in such building, the Council compensating the owner,