J.S. Lloyd
1901 The Lancet  
274 members, including its chairman, visited a number of public slaughter-houses on the continent and reported that all the public slaughter-houses in Germany are self-supporting." A commission in Saxony, appointed in 1893, investigated the subject of the finances of public slaughter-houses. They reported that-As soon as! the project [the establishment of public slaughterhouse] is mentioned-the butchers (the traders most interested therein) almost always oppose it, fearing various
more » ... rious inconveniences to which their trade may be subjected in connexion with a public slaughter-house and its compulsory use, not the least of which is the stricter control of their business which comes with a public slaughter-house. Added to this, they raise the question of cost and they hold out the prospect of an increase in the price of meat-a fact which carries weight with the public and with the representatives of the community. But if public opinion is not influenced by this opposition and by these fears of the butchers, and if the leading citizens are of opinion that a slaughter-house is necessary, the butchers almost always abandon their opposition suddenly, recognise the necessity of a slaughter-house, and at the same time demand the right to build, arrange, and administer it themselves. Apart from other reasons not necessary to discuss here the finance question is placed in the front rank by the butchers. While they seek to attack the citizen on his weakest side, the not inconsiderable cost of building, arrangement, and administration of a public slaughter-house is unduly brought forward by the butchers, and the prospect is held out of a heavy charge on the finances of the town, increased taxation, &c. It is important to emphasise that the establishment of a public slaughterhouse is in no way prejudicial to the finances of a town or increases the taxes of the citizens, but that the funds devoted to the building and management are a very good investment. This the butchers guilds and other persons who offer to build slaughter-houses know very well, and with this reason strive with all their might that this favourable financial project shall not escape them. But in this financial matter the local authority has a predominant interest. The Commission states that the receipts, without burdening the trader with heavy fees, provide, after payment of expenses, an interest of from 5 to 6 per cent. as well as a contribution to a sinking fund which will extinguish the debt in from 35 to 40 years. I have dwelt upon this financial question at some length because only a few years ago London went through the first phase which the Saxon Commission describes. In England, therefore, we must, if we are to prevent the sale of tuberculous meat to the public, provide for and insist upon the slaughter of all animals intended for food in public slaughterhouses and we must provide competent meat inspectors for that purpose. The question has to be considered to whom shall this duty of meat inspection be entrusted. It is perfectly clear that the work must devolve upon those who have as a basis of the knowledge of meat inspection a knowledge of pathology, and this at once narrows the question down to the selection of members of one of the two professions having such knowledge-the medical and the veterinary. I do not think that in this country we shall ever relieve the medical officer of health of the duty of determining what is to be deemed fit for the food of man, nor is it desirable that this should be done ; but in the actual carrying out of the work I believe we should do well to enlist much more than we have done in the past the services of members of the veterinary profession, and that we shall find that as they qualify themselves for this special duty they will be able to serve the purpose which we have in view. In conclusion, then, I may say that the time has fully come when we should follow the excellent example which has been set us by other countries, that we should require all the animals which are killed in urban districts for human food to be slaughtered in public slaughter-houses, where there can be inspection before, at the time of, and after slaughter of the animal, that the meat shall be stamped, and that the public should be taught to look for this stamping as the test of wholesomeness rather than have to rely upon the pathological knowledge of the butcher and the housewife. Further, that all meat which has been killed outside a district, other than that which may have been killed in some public slaughter-house and which bears the evidence of inspection, shall be taken to meatinspection stations for examination. Greater difficulty no doubt attends the inspection of meat in village communities, but even in such sparse populations the veterinary surgeon is to be found, and it is quite possible to organise a system by which his services are available when animals are killed for food. We are not now concerned with any question of other disease than tuberculosis, but I may refer to the enormous gain which it would be to the community to exclude from the human food-supply the meat of diseased animals which now can, practically without let or hindrance, find its way to the consumer. It would prevent, what has been within my own knowledge, meat from knackers' premises being sent regularly to London from the provinces, and it would ensure to the poor people among us that in purchasing meat they were receiving the value of their money. It would, however, do much more than I have stated, and especially in respect of tuberculosis, for in closing the door to the ready disposal of the meat of tuberculous animals it would compel the stock-owner to take steps to prevent the infection of his herd and would lead to the earlier exclusion from the milk-supply of animals manifesting symptoms of tuberculosis, for the interest of the cow-owner would be to slaughter them before disease became advanced. I beg to move :-That, in the opinion of this section, the meat of all animals intended for human food should be inspected before being sold for that purpose, and that in all urban districts, and in all rural districts as far as. possible, such animals should be slaughtered in public slaughter-houses, so as to ensure efficient inspection.
doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(01)85272-7 fatcat:yixmlblksnabbimgw5zrsq7ao4