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

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St James's 1893

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for St James's, Westminster]

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236
as to render the article injurious to health, with intent that the
same may be sold in that state; and a similar penalty is imposed
on any person selling such article. The 5th Section, however,
exempts from the penalty any person who proves that he did not
know of the article being so mixed, and that he could not. with
reasonable diligence, have obtained that knowledge. It will be
seen that, not only must the article have been rendered injurious
to health, but also that intent to sell in the mixed state must be
proved if the manufacturer is proceeded against, and that the
actual vendor can set aside the prosecution by proving absence
of knowledge, and that he could not reasonably obtain such
knowledge. A prosecution under the 3rd Section should, therefore,
not be lightly undertaken.
"Turning to the third class of offence, it may be remarked
that, if a purchaser asks for vinegar, and receives, without
notice from the vendor, vinegar plus sulphuric acid, he no more
obtains an article of the nature demanded than a purchaser who
asks for milk and receives milk and water, unless, indeed, the
presence of sulphuric acid is a necessary or a customary
result of the manufacture of vinegar. From the fact that the
Vinegar Act (58 Geo. III., cap. 65), which was a Revenue Act
and is now repealed, permitted the presence of a small percentage
of sulphuric acid, I infer that it was, and perhaps is,
customary for makers of vinegar to sharpen the acidity of their
article by the addition of sulphuric acid, and that the presence
of a small quantity of this acid was not regarded as harmful to
the consumer. If the Committee contemplate undertaking a
prosecution for the sale of Vinegar containing Sulphuric Acid,
the safest course would be to take proceedings under the
6th Section of the Act of 1875—that is, for the sale of an
article not of the nature demanded by the purchaser, which
would not necessitate proof that the sulphuric acid was added to
the vinegar, but would throw upon the vendor the onus of proof
hat sulphuric acid is a usual ingredient of commercial vinegar.
At the same time, it would be prudent for the Committee to
satisfy themselves that sulphuric acid is not a usual ingredient
of commercial vinegar before deciding to take any proceedings
at all.
"HARRY WILKINS,
“Vestry Clerk.
"20th January, 1894."

Among the samples submitted for examination, there have been the following:—

Milk32
Vinegar24
Butter12
Coffee7
Cocoa4
Arrowroot3
Wine1
83
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