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SALE OF FOOD AND DRUGS ACT 1875

UK Public General Acts

Version as enacted

1875 CHAPTER 63


  • Description of Offences
  • Appointment and Duties of Analysts, and Proceedings to obtain Analysis
  • Proceedings against Offenders
  • Expenses of executing the Act
  • Special Provision as to Tea
  • Version as enacted

Introductory Text

Sale of Food and Drugs Act 1875

1875 CHAPTER 63

An Act to repeal the Adulteration of Food Acts, and to make better provision for the Sale of Food and Drugs in a pure state.

[11th August 1875]

WHEREAS it is desirable that the Acts now in force relating to the adulteration of food should be repealed, and that the law regarding the sale of food and drugs in a pure and genuine condition should be amended:

Be it therefore enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

1 Repeal of statutes

From the commencement of this Act the statutes of the twenty-third and twenty-fourth of Victoria, chapter eighty-four, of the thirty-first and thirty-second of Victoria, chapter one hundred and twenty-one, section twenty-four, of the thirty-third and thirty-fourth of Victoria, chapter twenty-six, section three, and of the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth of Victoria, chapter seventy-four, shall be repealed, except in regard to any appointment made under them and not then determined, and in regard to any offence committed against them or any prosecution or other act commenced and not concluded or completed, and any payment of money then due in respect of any provision thereof.

2 Interpretation of words

The term " food " shall include every article used for food or drink by man, other than drugs or water :

The term " drug " shall include medicine for internal or external use:

The term " county" shall include every county, riding, and division, as well as every county of a city or town not being a borough:

The term " justices" shall include any police and stipendiary magistrate invested with the powers of a justice of the peace in England, and any divisional justices in Ireland.

Description of Offences


3 Prohibition of the mixing of injurious ingredients, and of selling the same

No person shall mix, colour, stain, or powder, or order or permit any other person to mix, colour, stain, or powder, any article of food with any ingredient or material so as to render the article injurious to health, with intent that the same may be sold in that state, and no person shall sell any such article so mixed, coloured, stained, or powdered, under a penalty in each case not exceeding fifty pounds for the first offence; every offence, after a conviction for a first offence, shall be a misdemeanor, for which the person, on conviction, shall be imprisoned for a period not exceeding six months with hard labour.

4 Prohibition of the mixing of drags with injurious ingredients, and of selling the same

No person shall, except for the purpose of compounding as herein-after described, mix, colour, stain, or powder, or order or permit any other person to mix, colour, stain, or powder, any drug with any ingredient or material so as to affect injuriously the quality or potency of such drug, with intent that the same may be sold in that state, and no person shall sell any such drug so mixed, coloured, stained, or powdered, under the same penalty in each case respectively as in the preceding section for a first and subsequent offence.

5 Exemption in case of proof of absence of knowledge

Provided that no person shall be liable to be convicted under either of the two last foregoing sections of this Act in respect of the sale of any article of food, or of any drug, if he shows to the satisfaction of the justice or court before whom he is charged that he did not know of the article of food or drug sold by him being so mixed, coloured, stained, or powdered as in either of those sections mentioned, and that he could not with reasonable diligence have obtained that knowledge.

6 Prohibition of the sale of articles of food and of drugs not of the proper nature, substance, and quality

No person shall sell to the prejudice of the purchaser any article of food or any drug which is not of the nature, substance, and quality of the article demanded by such purchaser, under a penalty not exceeding twenty pounds; provided that an offence shall not be deemed to be committed under this section in the following cases; that is to say,

(1) Where any matter or ingredient not injurious to health has been added to the food or drug because the same is required for the production or preparation thereof as an article of commerce, in a state fit for carriage or consumption, and not fraudulently to increase the bulk, weight, or measure of the food or drug, or conceal the inferior quality thereof;

(2) Where the drug or food is a proprietary medicine, or is the subject of a patent in force, and is supplied in the state required by the specification of the patent;

(3) Where the food or drug is compounded as in this Act mentioned;

(4) Where the food or drug is unavoidably mixed with some extraneous matter in the process of collection or preparation.

7 Provision for the sale of compounded articles of food and compounded drugs

No person shall sell any compound article of food or compounded drug which is not composed of ingredients in accordance with the demand of the purchaser, under a penalty not exceeding twenty pounds.

8 Protection from offences by giving of label

Provided that no person shall be guilty of any such offence as aforesaid in respect of the sale of an article of food or a drug mixed with any matter or ingredient not injurious to health, and not intended fraudulently to increase its bulk, weight, or measure, or conceal its inferior quality, if at the time of delivering such article or drug he shall supply to the person receiving the same a notice, by a label distinctly and legibly written or printed on or with the article or drug, to the effect that the same is mixed.

9 Prohibition of the abstraction of any part of an article of food before sale, and selling without notice

No person shall, with the intent that the same may be sold in its altered state without notice, abstract from an article of food any part of it so as to affect injuriously its quality, substance, or nature, and no person shall sell any article so altered without making disclosure of the alteration, under a penalty in each case not exceeding twenty pounds.

Appointment and Duties of Analysts, and Proceedings to obtain Analysis


10 Appointment of analysts

In the city of London and the liberties thereof the Commissioners of Sewers of the city of London and the liberties thereof, and in all other parts of the metropolis the vestries and district boards acting in execution of the Act for the better local management of the metropolis, the court of quarter sessions of every county, and the town council of every borough having a separate court of quarter sessions, or having under any general or local Act of Parliament or otherwise a separate police establishment, may, as soon as convenient after the passing of this Act, where no appointment has been hitherto made, and in all cases as and when vacancies in the office occur, or when required so to do by the Local Government Board, shall, for their respective city, districts, counties, or boroughs, appoint one or more persons possessing competent knowledge, skill, and experience, as analysts of all articles of food and drugs sold within the said city, metropolitan districts, counties, or boroughs, and shall pay to such analysts such remuneration as shall be mutually agreed upon, and may remove him or them as they shall deem proper ; but such appointments and removals shall at all times be subject to the approval of the Local Government Board, who may require satisfactory proof of competency to be supplied to them, and may give their approval absolutely or with modifications as to the period of the appointment and removal, or otherwise: Provided, that no person shall hereafter be appointed an analyst for any place under this section who shall be engaged directly or indirectly in any trade or business connected with the sale of food or drugs in such place. In Scotland the like powers shall be conferred and the like duties shall be imposed upon the commissioners of supply at their ordinary meetings for counties, and the commissioners or boards of police, or where there are no such commissioners or boards, upon the town councils for boroughs within their several jurisdictions ; provided that one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State in Scotland shall be substituted for the Local Government Board of England. In Ireland the like powers and duties shall be conferred and imposed respectively upon the grand jury of every county and town council of every borough; provided that the Local Government Board of Ireland shall be substituted for the Local Government Board of England.

11 Town council of a borough may engage the analyst of another borough or of the county

The town council of any borough may agree that the analyst appointed by any neighbouring borough or for the county in which the borough is situated, shall act for their borough during such time as the said council shall think proper, and shall make due provision for the payment of his remuneration, and if such analyst shall consent, he shall during such time be the analyst for such borough for the purposes of this Act.

12 Power to purchaser of an article of food to have it analysed

Any purchaser of an article of food or of a drug in any place being a district, county, city, or borough where there is any analyst appointed under this or any Act hereby repealed shall be entitled, on payment to such analyst of a sum not exceeding ten shillings and sixpence, or if there be no such analyst then acting for such place, to the analyst of another place, of such sum as may be agreed upon between such person and the analyst, to have such article analysed by such analyst, and to receive from him a certificate of the result of his analysis.