HC Deb 27 March 1912 vol 36 cc433-5

asked the President of the Local Government Board if he intends issuing Regulations laying down a standard for fat in preserved cream, and requiring the words, Preserved cream, boricised," to be inscribed on every bill, invoice, card, or other announcement in respect of the sale of preserved cream; if so, when these Regulations will come into force; and whether those engaged in the preparation and sale of preserved cream have been, or will be, given an opportunity of expressing their views upon the proposed Regulations?


asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that the proposed regulations as to the sale of cream will seriously injure the trade and prejudice consumers to an unreasonable extent; and whether he can see his way to altering the proposed wording of the labelling and invoicing so as, while conveying the necessary intimation to the public, it shall not give an erroneous impression that the use of the article is prejudicial to health?


asked the President of the Local Government Board if, in view of the anxiety felt as to the new regulations for the restriction of the use of preservatives in cream, he will postpone the date when the Regulations become operative for a fortnight, so that all reasonable objections may be considered?


asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that, of the whole cream trade at least 90 per cont. is in preserved cream; and whether he will reconsider the proposed Regulations which, compel labels to be put on every vessel containing preserved cream stating the percentage of boric acid, seeing that such labels may injure the trade by unnecessarily alarming the public?


Some misapprehension exists in regard to these proposals. As a result of numerous investigations which have been made by medical inspectors of the Foods Department of the Local Government Board, and by others, I am satisfied that, in the interests of public health, regulations are required in regard to the sale of cream containing preservatives. I have accordingly had Regulations prepared, and public notice has been given of them. I am anxious that any Regulations which are made should interfere with legitimate trading as little as possible, and any representations which are submitted in regard to the proposals which are contained in the draft will be fully considered. The statutory period under the Rules Publication Act, 1893, for the making of objections will expire at the end of this month, but this would not, of course, preclude my taking into consideration communications; subsequently received. As the drafs now stands, no part of the order will come into operation until 1st June next, and certain provisions not until 1st January next. If the trade consider other dates should be chosen, I should, of course, take account of any facts which they may submit in support of a suggestion to alter the dates. The points of detail raised in the question have, I think, all been brought forward in official representations that have reached my Department, and will be carefully considered.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can see his way to substitute for the word "boricised," which rather suggests to consumers that they are going to be poisoned, some harmless word, say "aseptic," which would probably meet the case?


As between "boricised" and "aseptic," I do not think there is much to choose. The latter word is rather suggestive of a bandage or an accident hospital.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a fact that boric acid is very injurious to health, and that its use is prohibited as a criminal offence in America, and whether he will have its use here made a criminal offence, instead of poisoning people's insides?


It is true that boric acid and many other preservatives, when disproportionately used, are dangerous to health, and it is to prevent that that these draft orders have been prepared for the consideration of those interested. It is the temporary object of the Local Government Board to diminish the use of preservatives to the very lowest minimum. I hope it will be possible some day to get rid of them altogether.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as this is a very great ddeparture and really seriously concerns the milk and creamery trade, he will notify at once that some later day than 1st June may be fixed for these much disputed Regulations coming into operation?


I do not think that on the point of notice any complaint can be made. Everybody concerned has had forty days' notice. As to 1st June for the first introduction of the orders, I have already said that I am prepared to consider the question whether a later date should be substituted for June, and whether a later date still should be substituted for January. On the whole, the trade has been treated reasonably well, particularly when it is borne in mind that it is at the instigation of the honest producers of pure cream that action like this has been undertaken.


May I ask if it is open to alter the Regulations between 30th March and 1st June?


Oh, yes; that is so.


Are we to understand that when no preservative is added to cream there is no necessity for a label?


If pure cream is pure, there will be no need to say it is impure.