Victorian London - Food and Drink - Adulteration and Contamination - Meat


WE are glad to see that the Officers of Health and others are prosecuting the country butchers and salesmen for sending putrid meat up to the Metropolitan markets. At a recent case, tries at the Mansion House,-
    "ALDERMAN HALE said he knew there were a class of persons in the country who thought Londoners would eat any kind of meat, and they thought it a good joke if they could only succeed in palming off their bad meat upon the London consumers, and he, therefore, would commit defendant for trial."
    We have no doubt that there is a certain class of country butchers who, in their extreme facetiousness, fancy that anything is good enough for the stupid Cockneys; but we beg to tell these funny gentlemen that such "a joke" may be great sport to them, but it is certain death to those at whose expense the filthy joke is cut. It is all done in the way of jesting; and we suppose, if they do poison a few hundreds, that they must be excuse , for they "poison but in jest." The old saying of "What is one man's meat in another man's poison" becomes thus painfully verified: the "meat" of the country, sent up in this putrid state, is literally the "poison" of the Metropolis. We notice that several of these Poisoners of the Nineteenth Century have heart punished with severe fines. Imprisonment with hard labour would be a litter reward for such jocular depravity. Perhaps they might not consider three months' employment in picking oakum  as "good a joke" as disseminating disease through the medium of meat in a corrupt state. To perpetrate jokes of so killing a nature, the minds of the malefactors must be almost as corrupt as the wares they, deal in. Their slaughterhouses were never intended for human beings as well as animals. The City Magistrates are to be highly commended for attempting to stop this extension of the butcher's business.

Punch, July 13, 1861