1887: 50 & 51 Victoria, c.29: Preventing the Fraudulent Sale of Margarine.

1887: 50 & 51 Victoria, c.29: An Act for the better Prevention of the Fraudulent Sale of Margarine.

[23rd August 1887.]

WHEREAS it is expedient that further provision should be made for protecting the public against the sale as butter of substances made in imitation of butter, as well as of butter mixed with any such substances:

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:

[Short title.]

1. This Act may be cited as the Margarine Act, 1887.

[Commencement of Act.]

2. This Act shall come into operation on the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight.


3. The word “butter” shall mean the substance usually known as butter, made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without salt or other preservative, and with or without the addition of colouring matter.

The word “margarine” shall mean all substances, whether compounds or otherwise, prepared in imitation of butter, and whether mixed with butter or not, and no such substance shall be lawfully sold, except under the name of margarine, and under the conditions set forth in this Act.


4. Every person dealing in margarine, whether wholesale or retail, whether a manufacturer, importer, or as consignor or consignee, or as commission agent or otherwise, who is found guilty of an offence under this Act, shall be liable on summary conviction for the first offence to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, and for the second offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds, and for the third or any subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds.

[Exemption from penalty.]

5. Where an employer is charged with an offence against this Act he shall be entitled, upon information duly laid by him, to have from any other person whom he charges as the actual offender brought before the Court at the time appointed for hearing the charge, and if, after the commission of the offence has been proved, the employer proves to the satisfaction of the Court that he had used due diligence to enforce the execution of this Act, and that the said other person had committed the offence in question without his knowledge, consent, or connivance, the said other person shall be summarily convicted of such offence, and the employer shall be exempt from any penalty.

[Marking of cases.]

6. Every person dealing in margarine in the manner described in the preceding section shall conform to the following regulations: Every package, whether open or closed, and containing margarine, shall be branded or durably marked “Margarine” on the top, bottom, and sides, in printed capital letters, not less than three quarters of an inch square; and if such margarine be exposed for sale, by retail, there shall be attached to each parcel thereof so exposed, and in such manner as to be clearly visible to the purchaser, a label marked in printed capital letters not less than one and a half inches square, “Margarine”; and every person selling margarine by retail, save in a package duly branded or durably marked as aforesaid, shall in every case deliver the same to the purchaser in or with a paper wrapper, on which shall be printed in capital letters, not less than a quarter of an inch square, “Margarine.”

[Presumption against vendor.]

7. Every person dealing with, selling, or exposing, or offering for sale, or having in his possession for the purpose of sale, any quantity of margarine contrary to the provisions of this Act, shall be liable to conviction for an offence against this Act, unless he shows to the satisfaction of the court before whom he is charged that he purchased the article in question as butter, and with a written warranty or invoice to that effect, that he had no reason to believe at the time when he sold it that the article was other than butter, and that he sold it in the same state as when he purchased it, and in such case he shall be discharged from the prosecution, but shall be liable to pay the costs incurred by the prosecutor unless he shall have given due notice to him that he will rely upon the above defence.

[Margarine imported or manufactured.]

8. All margarine imported into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and all margarine whether imported or manufactured within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, shall, whenever forwarded by any public conveyance, he duly consigned as margarine; and it shall be lawful for any officer of Her Majesty’s Customs or Inland Revenue, or any medical officer of health, inspector of nuisances, or police constable,

[88 & 89 Vict, c.63.]

authorised under section thirteen of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, to procure samples for analysis if he shall have reason to believe that the provisions of this Act are infringed on this behalf, to examine and take samples from any package, and ascertain, if necessary by submitting the same to be analysed, whether an offence against this Act has been committed.

[Registration of manufactory.]

9. Every manufactory of margarine within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland shall be registered by the owner or occupier thereof with the local authority from time to time in such manner as the Local Government Boards of England and Ireland and the Secretary for Scotland respectively may direct, and every such owner or occupier carrying on such manufacture in a manufactory not duly registered shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.

[Power to inspectors to take samples without purchase.]

10. Any officer authorised to take samples under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, may, without going through the form of purchase provided by that Act, but otherwise acting in all respects in accordance with the provisions of the said Act as to dealing with samples, take for the purposes of analysis samples of any butter, or substances purporting to be butter, which are exposed for sale, and are not marked Margarine, as provided by this Act; and any such substance not being so marked shall be presumed to be exposed for Sale as butter.

[Appropriation of penalties.]

11. Any part of any penalty recovered under this Act may, if the court shall so direct, be paid to the person who proceeds for the same, to reimburse him for the legal costs of obtaining the analysis, and any other reasonable expenses to which the Court shall consider him entitled.


12. All proceedings under this Act shall, save as expressly varied by this Act, be the same as prescribed by sections twelve to twenty-eight inclusive of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, and all officers employed under that Act are hereby empowered and required to carry out the provisions of this Act.

[Definition of local authority.]

13. The expression “local authority” shall mean any local authority authorised to appoint a public analyst under the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875.

Source: Law Reports Public General Statutes, 1887.

Parliamentary Debates: Hansard.