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The work for the Board of Customs and Excise in the main comprises the examination of samples in connection with the assessment of duty and drawback, or with the regulations relating to the manufacture and sale of dutiable articles, such as beer, table waters, potable spirits, methylated and other denatured spirits, wines, tobacco, sugar and sugar products, saccharin, coffee, silk and artificial silk, cocoa, hop products, matches and hydrocarbon oils.

In connection with all this work continued investigation must be undertaken to keep abreast of advances in manufacture and industry, where these concern samples and referred subjects dealt with in the laboratory, and for the improvement of processes of analysis. Examinations required for fiscal purposes frequently involve a technique not available in the recorded methods of examination of the articles under test. This calls for the development of newer methods, which then become available in other directions. Many of the inquiries submitted involve lengthy search and detailed study of the implications of the technical considerations arising from the inquiries, and it happens not Infrequently that the only information on a particular aspect of a subject is available in the records of the laboratory.


The total number of samples examined in the year in connection with the. duty on beer was 47,796. The object of the examination in most cases is to determine the original gravity of the beer, that is. the gravity before fermentation, as it is on this basis that the charge for duty is raised.

Materials Used for Brewing.—The number of samples examined was 363. of which 232 were malt, com. brewing sugars or exhausted grain, and 131 yeast foods and miscellaneous substances either used, or proposed to be used, in the preparation of beer.

Wort, or Beer in the Unfinished Condition.—As a check on the declarations of gravity made by brewers for assessment of beer duty, 4,141 samples taken by the local Officers of Customs and Excise were submitted for examination. One hundred and one samples were found to be under-declared, the extent of the under-declaration in most of these being one or two degrees of gravity.

Spoilt Beer.—Samples of beer to the number of 2,909. submitted as having become spoilt for various reasons and unsaleable, were examined in connection with claims for repayment of duty.

Beer as Retailed.—Under the provisions of the Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1885, it is an offence for a dealer in, or retailer of, beer to dilute beer. For the purpose of checking whether dilution has taken place 614 samples of beer were taken by Officers of Customs and Excise from the premises of publicans and other retailers and submitted for examination. In 19 instances there was evidence of dilution, and in 13 cases the dilution was equivalent to the addition of over three gallons of water per barrel.

Non-alcoholic Beer, Herb Beer and Beer Substitutes.— Thirty-three samples were examined in respect of their liability to beer duty. In 10 instances the alcohol ranged from 2 to 4 per cent, of proof spirit.

Beer Exported on Drawback.—On exportation, beer is entitled to drawback, which is based on the quantity and original gravity of the beer, both of which must be declared by the exporter. The laboratory checks the original gravity, and. in the case of bottled beer, the capacity of the bottles: 15,767 samples were examined, and only seven were found to be over-declared, in one or other of these respects.

Imported Beer.—Almost the whole of the beer imported into this country comes from the Irish Free State, and it consists principally of stout, whereas beer from the Continent is mostly of the lager type. All consignments are examined in order to determine the original gravity; during the year under review 20,682 samples of imported beer were examined.

Examination of Beer and Brewing Materials for Arsenic. —The number of samples tested, including beer, wort, malt, sugar ami other materials used in brewing, was 2,083. Of these, 27 were found to contain arsenic in slight excess of the limit recommended by the Royal Commission on Arsenical Poisoning -namely, the equivalent of one-hundredth of a grain of arsenious oxide per pound in solid materials or per gallon in liquids.

Miscellaneous Samples. —One thousand, two hundred and four samples of beer, concealed worts, sugar, solutions, etc., were examined in connection with special inquiries, control of brewers' operations and suspected irregularities, including the illegal addition of sugar or brewing by unlicensed persons. The analytical results in a number of the samples afforded evidence of revenue offences.

The Department has also advised on various aspects, of the manufacture, sale and revenue control of beer.


Imported cyder, if genuine, is not liable to duty other than the general ad valorem duty of 10 per cent, applicable to non-Empire goods; but if the cyder has been made with the addition of sugar or spirit it is dutiable as a preparation containing spirit. Importations of cyder (and perry) are therefore sampled and examined for evidence of such fortification. During the past year three samples were found to he dutiable. Seven samples of home-produced cyder and cyder substitutes were examined in connection with inquiries by officers of Customs and Excise.


Under the Finance Acts, 1925, 1929 and 1933, a Customs duty la levied upon extracts, essences or similar preparations made from hops, and two samples were examined in connection with the assessment of this duty.

Hydrometers, Sacchorometers, Thermometers and Graduated Vessels.

Hydrometers for ascertaining the strength of spirits or the specific gravity of hydrocarbon oils, saccharometcrs for use at breweries, distilleries and glucose factories, sets of weights for use in the collection of the silk duties, thermometers and graduated vessels of various descriptions are tested at the laboratory as to their

"Brewers' Journal, 1938", page 7

accuracy before being issued to the officers of Customs and Excise. During the year 2,088 such tests were made.

The Department is also responsible for the custody and maintenance of the principal reference spirit hydrometers.

A new instrument (the Tate saccharometer) for use in breweries and distilleries has heen designed in this laboratory, and, after exhaustive tests, both here and under practical conditions of working, approved by the Customs and Excise Department. One hundred of these have already been calibrated and issued for use.

"Brewers' Journal, 1938", page 8https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/5445569787371915337-1292484822358904140?l=barclayperkins.blogspot.com

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