1916 court: Butcher for the chop after sale of bad meat

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Before Mr J Dippie and Alderman Pirie at the Borough Police Court James Leak, butcher, 1 and 3 Bar Street, was charged with selling a piece of mutton for consumption which was not fit for the food of man. He was also charged with exposing unsound meat, and also with having unsound meat on the premises intended for the food of man.

The town clerk said a little girl, Florrie Grey, 9, Longwestgate, took a piece of partly cooked meat, which her grandmother had bought, to Mr Bastiman, inspector, and the latter subsequently examined other meat at the shop in company with Dr Selfe. Mr Boyes, as a magistrate, had condemned the purchased meat, and Cllr Hopwood, as a magistrate, the other meat - some pickled beef and a shoulder of mutton. Dr Selfe and Mr Bastiman said to defendant that the meat should not be given to an animal, let alone man.

Mr Bastiman said some meat marked “5d”, was stated by defendant to be intended for dogs. He also said the other was perfectly good although it was green.

By Mr Royle: Although the latter had dined with a local magistrate, probably the greatest judge on dining well, on mutton three weeks old, witness still held that it could not be good after three weeks. He had not thought it necessary to employ a skewer to test the meat, or to smell the inside.

Dr Selfe held that it was not necessary to go beyond the skewer test. It should not be bad on the outside. In cross-examination he admitted that meat that was high was not necessarily unsound.

By Mr Jones: It would not have improved health of any invalid who might have eaten it.

Mr Royle argued that a vendor had the right to expect that meat he sold would be treated in the correct manner.

The little girl Grey spoke of seeing her grandmother purchasing the meat, which tasted “not nice.”

Defendant, in the box, said the goodness of pickled meat could only be established after cooking. It was quite possible for mutton to be hung for four weeks - he frequently had it so himself. He had cut a slice of mutton, and told Mr Bastiman and the doctor it would, if tainted, smell inside as well as out; but they did not smell it. The outside was sold as cheap meat, but for which scores of poor people would never get any. If placed in hot water, then dried and cooked, the taint was taken away. The woman who had purchased it had done so for years. The price was only 5d. One half of the same mutton had not been condemned.

By the town clerk: Regarding a suggestion that it was meat he would not sell to respectable people, the latter would be prepared to pay more. The poor were glad to have it.

Mr Jones: And have to risk being poisoned if you are poor.

Defendant: Not necessarily so. I can eat it myself, and do eat it. He denied having told Mr Bastiman the 5d meat was not for sale.

The magistrates found the cases proved and inflicted a fine of 10s in each - 30s in all.