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Food Adulteration Prosecutions

Volume 92: debated on Tuesday 23 April 1901

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I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that a person charged with selling articles of food in contravention of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts must be informed to the exact nature of his alleged offence, and of the alleged adulteration, as stated in the analyst's certificates, while persons charged with selling diseased meat under the Public Health Act, 1875, are not informed of the exact nature of the disease, but are vaguely charged with selling meat which is diseased or unsound or unfit for food; and, as under these circumstances the defendant cannot prepare his defence, whether he will take steps to oblige sanitary authorities to state the exact nature of all such charges, and medical officers of health to furnish to the person whose meat is seized a certificate of the exact nature of the disease affecting the meat seized.

I am aware of the different requirements of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts and of the Public Health Act with regard to the matters referred to. I may point out that the adulteration of food and drugs can ordinarily be discovered only by the application of chemical tests. This is not so as regards meat which is diseased or unsound or unfit for food. The two classes of cases do not therefore seem to be parallel. I cannot say I think there is any sufficient ground for proposing such a change in the law as that suggested in the question.