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

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Paddington 1873

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Paddington]

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kept, carbolic acid had been thrown down the drains,
doubtless to destroy the sewer gas effluvia coming up;
on the following day the milk was strongly tainted.
The smell from mice, the musk-rat, fungoid vegetation,
sewer gas from sinks and drains, and many other
volatile matters, readily taint milk exposed to them
even a short time, and speedily set up lactic fermentation,
in which bacteria soon appear under microscopic
examination. The fact that Milk thus changed in its
character, will cause illness in both adults and children,
has long been known to me, and shows to my mind
the reasonableness of more rigid supervision over this
branch of industry in large cities.
In former Reports on private slaughter houses, I
alluded to the dangerous facilities offered through them
for the removal to, and killing therein of cows that
have become unfit for milk, and not less unfit for human
food. Some are positively suffering from disease, as
the state of internal organs have shown, yet the flesh
has been sold to the public as sound and wholesome
food. The history of cows brought to slaughter houses
should always be inquired into, and the carcase, if not
inspected during life by proper officials, should be
inspected after it is killed, and it should be reported
to them whether the beast was driven or carted to the
slaughter house. At present dairymen and slaughterers
of cattle have the transaction all their own way, for no
public officers have much cognizance of what takes