Charles Bowcott, a grocer and baker from Wellington, found himself facing charges of selling butter adulterated with 3% of water on November 22nd. Mr. E. L. Wallis represented the defendant, who pleaded not guilty.
Police Superintendent Cope testified that he visited Bowcott’s shop on the date in question, purchasing three-quarters of a pound of salt butter for analysis. Upon dividing the butter into three portions and sealing them in Bowcott’s presence, Cope gave one portion to the defendant and sent the other two for analysis. The certificate, received on December 8th, stated that the butter contained 19.2% water, which was at least 3% in excess.
The defense argued that there was no statutory standard for the amount of water allowable in salt butter, and there was no suggestion that the water was added for improper purposes nor that it was harmful to one’s health. Mr. Wallis highlighted the importance of this case, as the Superintendent admitted that it was Irish keeping butter, specifically Cork butter, and not fresh butter.
In support of the defense, Mr. Wallis presented Robert Gibson, sales master of the Public Creamery Market in Limerick. Gibson testified before the Royal Commission, based on which the Commission refused to recommend any standard for water content in an Act of Parliament, and the Board of Agriculture declined to set one as well. The outcome of this case, involving Limerick’s Public Creamery Market witness, will be closely watched, as it may impact future rulings on similar matters.
Hereford Times – Saturday 19 January 1901