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From the Chief Executive - March 2019

Jon Poole. IFST

In 1977, the now late IFST Past President, Tom McLachlan, bequeathed to IFST his rich and fascinating collection of more than 1500 books and publications dating from 1600’s through to current time. Over the last year we have been using the services of an archivist, Sheila Mercieca, to accurately catalogue and assess the collection.

This collection currently resides in my office and so I have been conscious of some of Sheila’s exciting finds as she works through the collection. Quite recently Sheila came across several hundred post-World War II UK Ministry of Food pamphlets and regulations - The Ministry of Food (1939-1958) was a separate department from the Ministry of Agriculture and oversaw the World War II rationing programme.

Some of these pamphlets make fascinating reading and, whilst this may seem a big leap, I couldn’t help but make a link with some of the potential food supply issues we could be facing in the very near future, if faced with a no-deal Brexit.

Topics covered by these pamphlets included surveillance - especially relating to Black Market activities – inevitable given the extreme shortages of food at that time. Licences to sell produce had to be obtained for a fee from the Government. Infringements to licences, and where known, transactions by unlicensed vendors, incurred fines.

Another topic concerned the transportation of food, with an emphasis on all transportation of food being for domestic use and not for export. Even at that time, the Government was concerned about sustainability with Trades people expected to follow the Ministry’s guidance concerning the reuse of returnable transportation containers.

Food Science and Technology should, predominantly be forward-looking. But sometimes, it can help to at least consider the past to help inform our future thinking. Of course, I sincerely hope that, in the coming weeks and months, we do not find ourselves in anything like the situation our families did at the end of the War.

We will be reporting in more detail on the McLachlan Collection in a future issue of Food Science & Technology.

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