Public Analysts’ Reports – Then and Now
For many years it was a requirement that Public Analysts made a quarterly report to local councillors. The illustration, reproduced courtesy of the West Yorkshire Archive Service, is an extract from the minute book of the Leeds Sanitary Committee and shows the samples analysed by Thomas Fairley, Leeds first Public Analyst, in the quarter ending 31st December 1873. Mr Fairley commented that “The sample of bread was of inferior quality, but no proofs of adulteration were found” and “Three of the samples of tea were tolerably good, the other contained about three percent of impurity”
On the 22nd of March Duncan Campbell, Thomas Fairley’s successor as Public Analyst for Leeds (and the other Districts in West Yorkshire), presented his last report to the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee. The meeting had been postponed from the 8th due to snow. In presenting the report he said that it was likely to be the last ever Public Analyst report made to elected members. The report, attached below, covers the period from the 1st April 2017 to 31st December 2017. In that period 625 samples were reported of which 293 (47%) received an adverse report. Of the unsatisfactory samples a 56 % had compositional faults. In the same period a decade ago 1,715 samples were reported, of which 421 (25%) were unsatisfactory.
The report highlights work on soft drinks with illegal additives, meat substitution, takeaways with undeclared allergens and/or high levels of salt and supplements making non-approved claims. Labelling on one supplement boasted: “Turning Men into Demigods”.