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

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St Mary (Battersea) 1890

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Battersea]

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the percentages of Total Solid Matter, of Milk.Fat, and of
other "proximate" constituents, should not be allowed to
fall, it becomes a matter of necessity to calculate upon low
standards of quality and to certify to minimum percentages
when dealing with such adulterations as the admixture of
water or the abstraction of milk.fat. The fixing of statutory
limits for natural products varying widely in composition undoubtedly
presents considerable difficulties, more especially in
this country; but it has been done elsewhere, apparently with
great benefit. In this country, anything of the kind would
involve certain modifications of, and additions to, the existing
Law, and would, no doubt, cast further duties upon
Inspectors. The difficulties in the way are by no means to be
regarded as insuperable. The main one is due to the variability
of composition of the milk of individual cows, which is often very
considerable. But the mixed milk of herds of cows, such as is
used generally for public supply, presents comparatively small
variations in composition.
14. Profits of Milk Adulteration.—In the Report of the
Local Government Board for 1887 the following remarks are
made upon the subject of Milk :—" The ease and the profit of
milk adulteration are so considerable that the practice will not
be easily suppressed. Assuming that the retailer buys milk at
is. a gallon and retails it at 4d. a quart, his legitimate profit is
4d. a gallon ; but by adding one.eighth of water he makes nine
pints out of every gallon, and thus his profit of 4d. is increased
to 6d., a clear gain of 50 per cent. He can thus afford to pay
fines, and go on adulterating." The fallacy of drawing conclusions
as to the seriousness of adulteration from what appear to be
small percentages has been pointed out in previous Reports to
your Vestry. The Board's very apt and simple illustration
renders this fallacy still more obvious.
15. "Inferior'' Milk.—The 7 samples returned as "Inferior
and probably Adulterated," were of very bad quality ; all of
them being exceedingly poor in Fat. In these cases the Milks
had most probably been purposely deprived of some proportion