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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29.. With respect to the prosecution of persons for selling
Adulterated Pepper, the admixture of what appears to be a small
percentage of refuse with Genuine Pepper may seem to be a
trivial offence from the point of view of a single small purchaser.
It must be remembered, however, that the Sale of Food and Drugs
Act is the only existing check upon those, who, through the
channel of certain retail dealers, succeed in disposing of large
quantities of valueless material to the detriment of the public
generally.
30. The Local Government Board recently requested Local
Authorities to inform them of the results of any proceedings
that may have been taken under the Acts, when forwarding the
quarterly reports of their Public Analysts to the Board. The
cautionary letters which were addressed by your Vestry to those
Vendors against whom, for various reasons, it was not deemed
advisable to institute proceedings, cannot have failed to produce
a salutary effect. This action, as I understand it, is however,
not to be taken to mean that the Vestry will decline to prosecute
in all future cases which are similar as regards nature and extent
of adulteration.
31. Fines.—In dealing with the fines inflicted, the Local
Government Board in their report for 1887 concluded that in
over 80 per cent. of the cases taken into Court during that year
the average fine was only about £1, and went on to state that
'• With magistrates thus lenient, it is not surprising that adulteration
continues to a large extent unchecked."
32. The attention of your Vestry has been frequently called
to the inadequacy of the fines inflicted in cases of adulteration.
A more severe administration of the law would possibly result if
the seriousness of the practice of adulteration was more clearly
appreciated.
33. Striking instances of what may certainly be termed merely
nominal fines are shewn in Table VI. The very bad cases of
Milk and Butter Adulteration where such fines as 6d. and is.
were imposed may be specially cited ; but the whole of the
cases afford ample justification for the above.quoted remarks
of the Board.


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