Foods and Food Adulterants

Edgar Richards
1890 Science  
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more » ... out Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. 226 SCIE FOODS AND FOOD ADULTERANTS. THERE is hardly any subject with which we come into such daily and constant contact as that of food, about which there is so much ignorance and prejudice; and it is the purpose here to discuss the nature, properties, and some of the chief adulterants of the principal food-products in regard to their healthfulness and composition from a chemical standpoint. There has been a large amount of information published in periodicals, official reports, general and monograph volumes, written in English, French, German, and other languages;' which, however, has not found its way to the gen-'eral public, who, as a rule, have a feeling of uncertainty and insecurity on the subject of most food-products. When people ~hear that a certain food is adulterated, or is a food substitute, there is immediately a prejudice excited against the :article, which it takes time and familiarity to allay, because they imagine that any substance used as an adulterant of, or a substitute for, a food-product, is to be avoided as being injurious to health. A moment's reflection ought to show that it would be directly contrary to the food-manufacturer's interest to add to, or substitute any thing for, a food-product ,which would cause injurious symptoms, as in that case his smeans of gain would be cut off by the refusal of consumers to buy his product. It is true that the unscrupulous manufacturer or dealer does not hesitate to cheat his customer in -the interest of his own pecuniary profit and gain, but he vdoes not want to poison him. Where, through carelessness ,or ignorance, injurious substances, such as the arsenic, copper, aniline. and other metallic and organic poisonous salts sometimes used for artificial colors, are added to foods, their presence is promptly revealed by the dangerous symptoms which they call forth in the consumer. About a year ago the case of the Philadelphia bakers, who added chromate of lead to color some of their cakes, and thus caused the death of several persons, and serious illness in nearly every one who ate any of these products, will be recalled by many. Prejudice about Foods. How much this nearly universal prejudice arises from misleading and sensational articles and advertisements in the daily newspapers, it would be hard to say. That a large proportion of the articles suitable for food, and produced in all countries, is wasted annually because of this prejudice, is undoubtedly true. We do not object to eating a live oyster, but prefer all our other meats dead, and undergoing putrefaction to a slight extent, in order to get rid of the "toughness," as it is generally called, produced by the rigor mortis. Some people like to let the putrefaction proceed further until the meat is 4gamy." The Texan cowboy eats goat's meat in preference to that of the cattle and sheep he is herding. Young puppies, rats, and birds' nests are considered delicacies by the Chinese. Frogs' legs and snails are among the highest priced dishes served at Delmonico's. Except the bones and hide, every part of an animal slaughtered for food is eaten by most civilized nations,-the brain; tongue; blood in the shape of black pudding and sausages; the liver; heart; lungs; stomach as tripe; the pancreas, thyroid, and sublingual glands, which are called sweetbreads, and considered a great delicacy; the feet in the way of jellies, and pickled; the intestines as sausage covering, etc. In the markets of 1 In the report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for 1888, pp. xixxiii, will be found a short bibliography of the leading publications, prepared Py the writer.
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