The Difficulties of the Public Analysts


HAVING for some time past watched with painful interest the prosecutions under the new Adulteration Act, and seeing very clearly that whatever may be its success or failure in reference to its intended object, this Act of Parliament is becoming eminently successful in bringing chemical science into contempt, I am glad to see that you have taken up the subject in the columns of NATURE. I hope that it will be freely discussed. It may be safely affirmed that in the majority of cases where the vendor has made an effort to defend himself he has been able to flatly and positively contradict the certificate of the public analyst by counter-certificates of other analysts of equal or superior eminence. The butter case you have quoted is no exception, but may be taken as about a typical or average sample of such prosecutions. If this deplorable state of things is to continue, the general public will be perfectly logical in concluding that either the public analysts are generally incompetent, or that chemical analysis is self-contradictory, and therefore worthless. The subject is one that seriously affects the dignity and general interests of science.

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