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of it, and to guarding against fraud and imposition upon the general public in the most vital of its purchases, its food, by inspection and constant vigilance, rather than by criminal prosecutions after the wrong has been done.
In this state, you are the agents chosen to stand in your various communities for the state in its oversight of the people. Every legislature adds to your power and increases your responsibilities, but with each year that passes an intelligent public opinion is coming to your aid. Already quarantine of contagious diseases, the registration of births and deaths, the regulation of the transportation of dead bodies, have come to be accepted as a matter of course, and it is only occasionally that the health officer encounters opposition to his orders and requirements in these matters.
But there are some phases of the health laws that are still almost unknown and unenforced, or are just beginning to be brought to public attention. Of these, I shall very briefly call your attention to the Pure Food Laws, and particularly those relating to milk and meat, the laws controlling water supplies and sewerage, and the laws dealing with the sanitation of buildings.
PURE Food Laws. In a general way the State Board of Health through its inspectors has taken this matter in charge, and canned goods, bottled goods and all brands of food sold under seal are examined and analyzed from time to time at the State Laboratory, so that unless the local health officer has reason to believe that some particular brand is being sold in violation of law, there is ordinarily no occasion for him to take samples for analysis unless so instructed by the State Board. But over all goods sold in bulk, he should keep the closest watch, for it rests with the local health officer to see that the butter, milk, meat and all food sold unsealed, are pure and wholesome and are what they purport to be.
Under the provisions of Section 5478 of the Public Statutes, the local health officer "may inspect the carcasses of slaughtered animals intended for food, and meat, fish, vegetables, produce, fruit or provisions found in his town, and for such purpose may enter any building, enclosure or other place in which such carcasses or articles are stored, kept or exposed for sale."
In the same section, it is also provided that "If such carcasses or articles are designated for food for man, and are found tainted, diseased, corrupted, decayed, unwholesome, or for any cause unfit for food, the local board of health shall seize the same and cause it to be forthwith destroyed or disposed of otherwise than for food."
You will note that it is the local board of health, and not the health officer, who can seize and destroy the condemned articles. The local health officer may and should make inspections and when he finds food that appears to him unfit for use, he should at once mark it in some way, without injuring the food, so that he can identify it again; notify the owner of the food, or whoever is in charge of the place where it is kept for sale, that it must not be sold for food, stating the reason why and calling his attention to the provisions of the law (Section 5475, Public Statutes), which provide imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine of not more than $400 for the sale or offering for sale of an article of food or drink, which is adulterated or misbranded, or of any kind of diseased or unwholesome provisions.
If the apticles are such as ought to be destroyed under the provisions of Section 5478, just quoted, the health officer should get a majority of the local board of health together, which would in towns consist of at least two of the selectmen with the local health officer, have the board see the article in question and seize and order it destroyed. There should appear on the records of the local board of health minutes of the meeting where this is done, and a record of the vote taken that the article in question is unfit for food, stating the reason why, and a record that the board of health voted to seize the same and ordered it to be destroyed, setting forth the method of destruction and the person or persons authorized to destroy the article. Whoever is appointed to destroy the food should report to the board of health that its instructions have been carried out and the manner, time and place where they were carried out. All these things should appear in detail in the records of the local board of health, so that in case any question should be raised about the legality of the proceeding or the right of the persons who seized and destroyed the goods to do so, all steps will appear to have been regularly taken.
This is important, for where property is seized and destroyed the health officer must be able to show that the law has been strictly complied with in every respect or he will be personally liable for his acts. It must also Be remembered that the judgment of the board of health does not protect him or them. Where an officer or a board is given authority to take action under certain conditions without notice to the parties and without hearing, its action cannot be final, but if it is later called in question the officer or the board must be able to establish the facts necessary to constitute a basis under the law for the action taken, and this by the rules of legal evidence. Thus, in destroying food, the board of health must first be sure that the articles are designated (the Statute says "designated”) for human use and are kept and offered for sale, then that they are unfit for food, and finally, every step in condemning and destroying the articles must be taken in strict compliance with the law. It is always well to have one or more disinterested and reliable witnesses (not members of the local board) who can testify, if needed, to the facts necessary to be established.
Under the law, as it reads, I do not see how the local health officer has any right to remove articles, which he may consider ought to be destroyed, from the premises where he finds them until after the local board of health has acted upon the matter. To save any question, it would be better for the local board of health or a majority of the board to go to the place where the article in question is and see it before taking action concerning it, but probably this is not necessary, and in many cases it would be impracticable, and if the health officers are to proceed at all to seize and destroy unwholesome provisions for food, in many cases the local board of health must act at a meeting held elsewhere than at the place where the food is, relying for information upon the report of the health officer.
The records of the board of health should show whether the board of health as a body visited and examined the article in question, or whether it acted upon the report of the th officer, and if so, the report of the health officer should appear in the minutes.
I do not find any provisions of the law for a local health officer to purchase at the expense of the state or town samples of articles of food offered for sale, to be sent to the State Laboratory for analysis. I should advise that if a health officer believes articles of food are being sold in his town, which are adulterated, misbranded or unfit for use as food in any way, he should communicate at once with the secretary or president of the State Board of Health, report the facts and get instructions as to the course to be pursued. In many instances it will be found that the State Board has already obtained analyses of the goods in question. But if for any reason the local health officer feels that he should act in the matter at once and have an examination made, he ought not to hesitate to make purchase of a small amount and send it to the Laboratory for analysis. In most instances probably no question will be raised by the town officers if he charged as part of his expenses the sum which he paid out to procure the samples, provided this sum was kept down to a small amount.
Section 5479 of the Public Statutes provides that “A person who doubts the purity or genuineness of an article of food or drug, which he has purchased, may at his own expense send a sealed sample of it to the State Laboratory of Hygiene for inspection.”
There the matter passes into the hands of the State Board to take such action as the case seems to require. So if complaints are made to the local health officer by purchasers of food and provisions, one good way to deal with the complaints is to request the complainant to send a small sample properly sealed to the State Laboratory stating where it was purchased and of whom, the health officer at the same time making a written report of the complaint and action taken to the secretary of the State Board of Health. But you will notice that if an individual, who is not a health officer, sends in a sample, it must be at his own expense. This does not mean that he must pay for the examination at the Laboratory, but merely pay for the sample, see that it is properly sealed and pay the expense of sending it to the Laboratory, in most instances the total amount involved being very small.
In taking samples to be sent to the Laboratory for analysis, if the occasion arises where the local health officer thinks it best to do so, or is directed to do so by the State Board, he should if possible take a disinterested and reliable person with him as a witness when he makes the purchase. He should if possible make the purchase of the owner, or at least of the person in charge of the place where the article is kept, and he should in any event go prepared to seal up the article taken just as soon as he purchases it and do this in the presence of the person from whom he purchases it, and the witness whom he takes with him, if he has some one. It is sufficient if he simply fastens white seals over the openings of the package, whether the goods are in cans, bottles or in bulk and done up in paper, writing upon the seals his name and the date and the name of the person offering the goods for sale. These steps are necessary if the analysis of the sample is to be used as legal evidence in a subsequent prosecution.
It is almost needless to say that the local health officers must of necessity be depended upon to keep watch of the sale of food and provisions in their respective towns with a very close scrutiny, because the State Board has a wide field to cover and its efficiency can be immeasurably increased or diminished, according to the activity and vigilance of the local health officers.
One branch of the Pure Food Law, which depends almost wholly for its enforcement upon the vigilance and activity of the local health officers, is that which deals with milk and milk products.
In the last few years a very great change has taken place in the laws governing the production and sale of milk and its products. The beginning of the enforcement of these laws has already made a very great change in conditions, but only a beginning has been made and unceasing vigilar ce will be required if the advantage already gained is to be kept and we are to move on year by year to better conditions.
Standard milk is defined in No. 4931, Public Statutes, as milk containing not less than 121/2 per cent of solids or not less than 914 per cent of total solids, exclusive of fat, except in the months of May and June, when it shall contain not less than 12 per cent total solids. Persons who sell and furnish milk which does not comply with this standard, are violating the law and liable to prosecution. No milk or cream can be legally sold which has been diluted with water, or adulterated or treated with chemicals. Nor shall the person sell or offer for sale milk from which the cream or a part thereof has been taken, without the full knowledge of the person to whom such milk is sold or offered for sale. A person who violates any of these provisions, shall be fined not more than $300, nor less than $50 for each offense.
The policy of the State Board of Health has been to rely largely upon the publicity of the results of examination of milk and cream taken from the different dealers about the state from time to time to improve conditions, under which the milk is produced and sold. A very marked improvement has been shown all through the state as a result of these examinations and their publication. At first, as many of you know, nearly all of the samples of milk were dirty. Now it is the exception to find milk being offered for sale which contains dirt or other deleterious matter. But the time has come now when, in flagrant cases at least, prosecutions are probably advisable where milk offered for sale contains dirt or other deleterious matter, and more especially in those cases where repeated tests fail to show an improvement in milk.
In all cases where water has been found in the milk, prosecutions have been recommended by the State Board, and in most instances they have followed. Usually the respondent has pleaded guilty without trial, when confronted with the results of the state examination. It is of the utmost importance that the law should be strictly followed in taking the samples and laying the foundation for a subsequent prosecution, if the samples warrant. Unless a situation arises where there is evidence from persons who have seen the milk watered, and these instances must necessarily be very rare indeed, convictions must necessarily depend upon the samples taken and analyzed at the State Laboratory. These samples are usually taken by the local health officers, and it is therefore of the utmost importance that they should understand and follow closely the law in this respect.
Section 4929 provides that samples of the milk or cream in question must be taken from such milk or cream in the presence of at least one disinterested witness, and with the knowledge and in the presence of the person or the agent or servant of the person so selling, or having in his possession with intent to sell, the milk or cream, and this must be sealed up by the person taking the sample then and there, when it is taken, in the presence of the witness and the owner or his agent or servant.
Section 4930 provides that "Such samples shall be placed in tin or glass vessels, securely sealed with a label thereon, stating the time when and place where the samples were drawn, from whose milk or cream taken, and signed by the person taking the same and by one or more disinterested witnesses."
The same section also provides that "upon request a like sample (and this means a sample taken in the same way and prepared in the same way) shall be given to such person, his agent or servant, for which a receipt shall be given to the person taking or drawing the same."
This does not mean that samples otherwise taken and analyzed cannot be used as evidence, but the force of the evidence is greatly increase]