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Food Adulteration Prosecu- Tions Mistakes Of Public Analysts

Volume 90: debated on Thursday 7 March 1901

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I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that in several prosecutions recently against tradesmen for the alleged sale of adulterated articles, notably at Portsmouth and Hackney, it has been shown that the public analysts on whose statements action has been taken have been guilty of grave mistakes; and whether he can take any steps to prevent respectable tradesmen being unjustly summoned upon erroneous certificates.

I have communicated with the public analysts as regards the two instances referred to by my hon. friend. I find that certificates given by them in two cases were not upheld on reference to the Government Laboratory. The circumstances do not appear to show, however, that the analysts were open to blame-In one of the cases the analyst seems to have taken special care in the matter. I have no power to take any steps for the purpose mentioned in the last paragraph of the question, and I may say that, speaking generally, it appears to me that the tradesman is sufficiently protected by the power to have an analysis verified at Somerset House.