Page images

the break or deficiency to clean out and disinfect the gastrointestinal tract, adjust nerve disequilibrium, sustain muscular tension and balance the circulation to as nearly normal as may be to preserve atomic and somatic competency most efficient when small auxillary means to initiate or mature proper functioning may often prove adequate.

We make no effort to lay down flat, fast rules, but simply mention some indications which are always present and remedial measures always practicable.



READERS of the MEDICAL FORTNIGHTLY will probably be able to recall two articles that appeared in the issues of October 10th and November 25th, 1905, the first by Dr. C. F. Wahrer, of Fort Madison, Iowa, and the second by the writer of this article, that treated of a so-called "Wholesale Poisoning" of the public by impure food. The sequel to these two papers is of so much general interest to the medical profession that it has occurred to me that a supplementary word upon this subject would not be amiss at the present time. Soon after my article appeared in the FORTNIGHTLY letters were received by me both condemnatory and commendatory of my position. One commendatory letter reached me from a Chicago merchant who had been shown the paper by a physician. In it he asked whether there was or was not any objection on my part to his having it reproduced in pamphlet form for general distribution. As the subject was not a purely professional one, as it was one of national importance, and as my complete retirement from active practice was about to take place, the conclusion was reached that the granting of such a right could not be construed as an attempt at unethical advertising. No reason could, therefore, be found for objecting to the proposal, and an answer was returned to the effect that he had my consent. Could the consequences have been foreseen there might have been considerable hesitation in returning such a reply. The strain which it brought upon my none too vigorous health was than my courage might have dared to face. On receiving the Chicago correspondent's letter with its "thank you for your kindness" my supposition was that this closed the inci. dent. A few weeks later the postman delivered at my office a small pamphlet bearing


the title of "The Wholesale Poisoning Scare." This was the first appearance it had made to me, and the facts here given constitute all that is known to me about its distribution. A few days after the reception of the pamphlet a deluge of correspondence came pouring in upon me. This continued until letters had been received from medical men in nearly every State. Some of these contained vehement protests against my attitude on the pure food question. An equal num. ber of the writers were profuse in their words of praise. It was particularly noticed. that while every letter of praise contained inherent evidence of the fact that the writers were men of education the same could not be said of but few of the protestants. The most abusive gave ample evidence in their orthography and syntax of very deficient education. In miserable scrawls they poured out the vials of their wrath in such choice expressions as "How mutch did you git for riting such thrash!" "You are a d-d full," "The riter of this pamflit is an ijiot, scamp, and liar," etc. From the communications of the better educated among those who took offence at the reprint the following words are copied: "I have read it with interest as the first article I have seen that defends food adulteration. "If any real M.D. has actually written and tried to foist this article on the public he is a dirty cuss and ought to have his degree taken from him." "The sending of such 'stuff' is an insult to the intelligence of a physician." "You are, of course, paid for this circular and it shows tact and skill in composition. You should confine its distribution to the gullible. judge that something stronger than logic or justice influences you. "Hoping that the profession will bury you in an avalanche of protests, I am, yours, etc." Only two of these writers had the daring to sign their names. Such manifestations of barbaric rancor in the medical profession and in the twentieth century is scarcely conceivable as actually existing.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


With the bitter words came many that were much more pleasing. There was a liberal inpouring of words of encouragement and of praise. praise. Choosing a few at random from my letter file the reader can see how different the effect was on those who judged by reason rather than by passion or emotion. The retiring president of one of the largest state medical associations in our country wrote: "Let me say that it is a very sensible and commendable production. If we all would only consider matters in their true light, instead of exaggerating, it would be far better for the welfare of the masses. I am inclined to believe that these scares are gotten up for

political purposes, either to draw the public mind way from matters of great importance, or for the establishment of a new department, commission, or bureau." A professor in a leading medical college wrote: "The paper expresses so forcibly my own thoughts about the subject that I cannot, but send you a word of appreciation and admiration of your timely work." A physician of Dr. Wahrer's own state (Iowa) wrote: "It tickles me to see how thoroughly and. adroitly you have larruped them. Now it will be 'up to them' to attempt a successful answer. I would like to see their effort." A prominent Buffalo physician wrote asking for twenty copies to send to friends and added: "I wish to express my thanks to you for your essay, which I feel tends to do something towards correcting the erroneous tendency of some modern magazine writers who are misled by fanatics." A New Jersey physician wrote: "The Wholesale Poisoning Scare received. Thanks. It strikes it right."

That mine was not the only mail that was deluged with correspondence concerning the reprint appears from a reference to it in the Journal of the American Medical Association, March 31st, 1906. A physician of Cavein-Rock, Illinois, received a copy in his mail, dubbed it, "What Is It?' and forwarded it to editor Simmons for identification. The latter gentleman in his answer said that he had received copies of it from all parts of the country," but he, ungraciously, concluded his reply with the slurring insinuation of "Who pays the freight?" Why is it that when men undertake to defend untenable positions, or positions they do not know how to defend, they are so prone to resort to uncomplimentary inuendoes? Why did he not have the graciousness to publish my response to his direct personal attack? It is to be presumed that he must have felt that to do so would be too much like eating "crow."

Soon after the extensive distribution of the reprinted "Wholesale Poisoning Scare" the Bureau of Chemistry, of the Department of Agriculture, put two of its division chiefs at work on the production of Bulletin No. 100, which bears the title of "Some Forms of Food Adulteration," etc. The contents of this bulletin not only follow the arguments of the MEDICAL FORTNIGHTLY reprint, but the time of its appearance, and even the wording indicates the source of part, at least, of its inspiration. It would appear from the introductory page as if the Bureau of Chemistry had shared in the deluge of correspondence that occurred at that time. We are told that the bulletin was prepared in response to a very large number of enquiries' regarding pure food, and "as a

[ocr errors]

popular statement regarding the nature and extent of food adulteration." The tone of Bulletin No. 100 is most encouraging, and while this effort of its authors may not meet with the approval of those who entertain such views as were expressed by Dr. Wahrer, or of the medical men who felt so incensed and scandalized by my efforts, it would do them all a world of good to procure copies and give them a careful reading. On the first page, following the list of contents, it says: 'As is often the case when public interest is deeply aroused, there is an unfortunate tendency toward exaggeration which frequently amounts to sensationalism." It was because the FORTNIGTTLY reprint was levelled at this "unfortunate tendency" that it and its author came in for such a flood of anonymous abuse. The writers of the bulletin then go on to say: "Such an attitude is to be deplored, and unless it is checked must sooner or later react unfavorably. This was exactly the position taken in the reprint, and it is gratifying to find that our government experts agree with it. They next say: "It is not unusual to speak of some of our typical foods as poisoned, and of food manufacturers as poisoners. This is exactly what Dr. Wahrer did and what he was commended for doing by many physicians, and among the rest the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Let us see what Professor Wiley's government experts have to say about this: "Such characterizations are unfortunate and untrue.' (The italics are mine.) The authors then go on to say that "deleterious substances are doubtless sometimes added to foods. At the same time the word 'poison' has a very strong and distinct signifiance and should not be applied to any of the substances ordinarily added to foods, except in the sense that they are harmful. The word 'poisoner' signifies a person who intentionally and deliberately administers an article intended to result fatally, or at least very disastrously to health." This is certainly a fair and timely reprimand to those whose exaggeration is frightening the masses, and no reasonable person can object to it. In continuance of their argument they add: "We do not for a moment admit that any manufacturer of foods adds to his products substances which he believes will be injurious to health. There is no reason for attributing such motives to so large and important class of citizens, and their business sagacity in other directions precludes the possibility of shortsightedness of so serious a nature. We cannot do less than assume that manufacturers who depend for their success upon the reputation of their brands will add nothing which they believe will make their products

seriously detrimental to health. It is not to their interests to shorten the lives of their customers nor to impair their appetites. We must assume that they honestly believe the products they employ to be wholesome. Therefore, in judging of the wholesomeness of preservatives and other substances added in the preparation of foods, the subject must be treated in a conservative manner and no criminal or even dishonest motives attributed to those who differ with us on the subject.' How much this sounds like the words:"To put forward the claim that any large proportion of merchants and manufacturers, for the mere sake of gain, become what is practically thieves and murderers, is not a claim that should be looked at lightly. If not true it is If not true it is a grievous wrong to make it?" These words were the keynote of the FORTNIGHTLY reprint which brought such invective, bitter accusations and insinuations. When their leaders condemn so unsparingly perhaps they will begin to think that Dr. Eccles was not so far wrong after all. What have Dr. Wahrer and others who entertained, or pretended to entertain, such views now got to say for themselves? Had the Bureau of Chemistry come out with such views before the distribution of the reprinted "Wholesale Poisoning Scare" they would have met with much less opposition in their effort at securing the passage of the Pure Food Bill. It is a pity that they have not themselves been wholly free from traces of this sort of sensationalism which they have just begun to deplore. It is a greater pity that the officers of this bureau still show themselves willing to sit silently by and listen to declamations of this type, in the halls of Congress, in public conventions, and elsewhere. On no one single occasion has it been my good fortune to see a report of their having reprimanded, challenged, or checked any of the persons whom they now brand as untruthful sensationalists.

The passage in the reprint which called forth the most pronounced opposition from people unfamiliar with the facts was the one in which it was asserted that there was no evidence of any very large proportion of adulterating going on in goods for which a fair price has been paid. My statement was that what has been found is reports from chemists who have deliberately sought for adulterated goods under conditions where they would have been astonished if they had found pure ones. They have suspected, or known in advance of the purchase, that they were likely to turn out impure." Now let the reader compare this statement with the one made by the Bureau of Chemistry. Here it is: "The inspectors in the various States are

trained men, and are always instructed to select especially those samples which they have reason to believe are likely to be adul terated. Brands of foods which they know from previous experience are pure are, therefore not commonly taken by these inspectors, and products whose purity for any reason they are inclined to suspect are sampled. In the report of each laboratory, therefore the percentage of adulterated samples is stated, not in terms of the average foods of the State, but in terms of the foods which experienced inspectors have regarded with suspicion."


Perhaps those medical men who have heaped their abuse upon me for making the statement I did will believe it now that it is officially announced as a fact. But, conceding this to be true, where is there any foundation for the sensational and misleading stories that have been so widely circulated in the public press? Analyses of samples of millions of tons of staple provisions and of the thousands of brands of unsuspected ones are either never now made, or if made need not be looked for in the reports upon adulteration. Goods that are known to be adulterated, and goods that are suspected to be adulterated constitute the material out of which the formidable looking tables are constructed which leave such depressing effects upon the minds of the average reader. He sees 76 samples reported as being examined and 24 of them pronounced adulterated, 326 samples examined and 20 adulterated, 317 examined and 5 adulterated, etc. To the expert reader the impression is that the members of the mercantile world are on the average exceedingly honest men or no such favorable record could be made. find so few bad samples among so many, all of which were suspected by experts to be bad, is a wonderful showing of commercial honesty and honor. Unfortunately the average reader of such reports takes no such truthful conclusion from them. He looks at the heading and there reads: "Extent of Adul. teration," and interpreting these words as meaning what they say, jumps to the conclusion that most merchants are a bad lot when so large a proportion of their goods are adulterated. It never occurs to him that he is studying goods, all of which ought to be adulterated if the expert had guessed right. To find so large a proportion of honesty where nothing but roguery had been looked for is an astonishingly good showing. That the compilers of the tables in Bulletin No. 100 were still tainted with the sensationalism which that pamphlet deplores is evident on discovering that twenty-three tables of this kind have the false and misleading heading of "Extent of Adulteration" over them. The ratio of adulteration among suspected goods

is in no sense the "Extent of adulteration." To call it such is to mislead and make readers see evil where, in fact, the evidence shows good. But this is not the only fault of these tables. While intended to be a fair presentation of facts their form of presentation tends to give a false impression to all who do not carefully study them. The close, critical reader observes that they are an aggregation of results covering a period of over ten years. The average reader, who has neither the time nor the inclination to look deeply into their true significance, takes from their ponderous appearance the impression that there is an immense array of evidence against the merchants. He does not consider either time or territory. Besides this he fails to notice that the same articles may have duplicate or triplicate entries as some of them may contain, for instance, gluccse, artificial coloring matter, and preservatives. As recorded such cases, by occurring in three separate entries, make the figures look three times as bad as they really are.

In regard to the use of preservatives the authors of the Bulletin inform us that "the literature regarding the wholesomeness of the so-called chemical preservatives is not by any means uniform in either approving or disapproving them." This is precisely the condition of things in regard to the use of spices, tea, coffee, wines, tobacco, and many other articles of common use, and which the users are quite willing to take their chances on. If there are those who are willing to use goods containing preservatives by what moral right has any government the power to interfere with their being able to get them? Is it not pure tyranny on the part of those who try to get such laws established? Why not make laws forbidding the sale of tea, coffee and tobacco? Why not try to stop interstate commerce in these articles. When the presence of the preservative is declared upon the packet the attempt of any set of men, any government, or any law to interfere with the sale of such goods can be justified by no moral standard, for it is nothing short of an autocratic interference with the natural rights which the constitution guarantees. Bulletin 100 tells us that "it is the opinion of this bureau that they cannot be regarded as entirely wholesome even in the small amounts generally added to foods." It was the opinion of the same bureau that the harmfulness of preservatives was in direct proportion to their preservative power. Now no such opinion seems to be entertained there. It was the opinion of that bureau that salicylic acid was the most dangerous of all the common chemical preservatives, but now such an opinion is no longer entertained

there. It was the opinion of that bureau that it was only necessary to prove that a substance had antiseptic qualities when it was proven unwholesome. This opinion has, we understand, been modified materially. Many other opinions related to this very subject have undergone great changes on the part of that bureau in the last ten years. To fix upon a whole nation a tyrannical law based, solely, on the opinion of a bureau that has been so frequently changing its opinions should not commend itself to intelligent men. The authors tell us that "the recent investigations conducted by this bureau, in which twelve men were used as subjects, demonstrated that boric acid is injurious to health." This is another of the opinions of that bureau that is of doubtful value since Prof. Oscar Liebriech, of the University of Berlin, has shown that not only are the facts on which they have based their conclusions of doubtful validity, but the conclusions themselves cannot logically be drawn from the data given even when accepted as perfectly valid. It is a well known fact that the twelve men all had to sign an agreement, before the experiments began, that they would themselves assume all responsibility for injured health due to the experiments. This terrorizing at the very commencement must have had a deleterious effect upon them by inducing a suspicion of danger, to prey upon their minds during the entire period of the experiments. In view of all this is there not a suggestion of sensationalism in the word "demonstrated" as applied to such experiments. Would not the more modest expression that it was "rendered probable that boric acid is injurious to health" have fitted the case better? My conviction from a study of the facts is that even this mild expression would be very strong, but from their standpoint of enthusiastic faith in their own results it would have been passed as justifia

Their reference to the experiments of the German Imperial Board of Health comes with ill grace from our Department of Agriculture when it is so well known that politics were at the bottom of the conclusions drawn from those experiments, and they were aimed at keeping from German markets our American meats.

In the matter of colors in foods the authors of the Bulletin concede that there is practically no danger to health in their use as those generally employed are of a harmless character. Their "opinion," as expressed, is that "the use of colors enables the manufacturer to give inferior products the appearance of high priced goods." Because of this they wish to have Congress pass laws that will stop their transportation between the States

colors is charged as a crime. In the medicines it is taken to be all right. The difference between tweedledee and tweedledum seems to be immense with some people. The very physicians who are angered at any suggestion of finding fault with so-called pure food laws do not hesitate to prescribe medicines that fundamentally are as bad as the condemned foods. Such pharisaical pretence is nauseating.

on the plea that such colored goods are adulterated. It seems almost incredible that these authors are unable to see that their logic would make it illegal for a man to paint his house before selling it, to color or dye any garment, or to use dyes or coloring materials anywhere. In every place where these are used the same objection can be urged with equal force. For ages the watchword of prudence has been caveat emptor. For ages to come it must continue to be so. When a prudent man builds a house that Don Quixote never went forth on a war is out of reach of a hydrant supply of waagainst wind-mills that was more senseless ter he takes care enough of his property to than is this attempt at stopping the use of see that a well filled tank of water occupies a colors because it can be abused. When, how- convenient place to be of service in the case ever, we analyze the alleged cases of abuse of fire. What would be thought of the man that the authors of the Bulletin have cited we who should suggest a bad intent on the part are constrained to believe that a taint of sen- of a builder who should try to sell such a sationalism still lingers in their methods, house solely because he had added such a prohard as they seem to be trying to avoid it. tective tank to the house before selling it? When they refer to "a bright green hue What would be thought of the logical acumen which is not suggestive of any natural food;" of any person who should assert that such a tell us that "the butter now on our market is builder had added that water tank "for the colored more deeply than is natural," and purpose of cheapening the product," i.e., the write of tomato catsup of a deep-red color, house? When a maker of catsup adds salicymuch more vivid than could possibly be ob- lic acid or sodium benzoate to his stock of tained without the use of artificial colors, tomatoes that are perfectly pure and fresh he they unconsciously point to a truer explana- does so with identically the same motive as tion than the fraud one. The instinctive de- that which inspires the builder who supplies sire for color in foods which our Department a water tank to guard against fire. The of Agriculture is seeking to suppress is seen addition is made to the house to save it from in a still more pronounced form in the color- destruction by fire just as the addition is ings of wedding cakes, the brilliant hues of made to the tomatoes to save them from demottled ice creams, the fantastic stripings of struction by bacteria. To charge that the stick candies, and the aniline tints of the preservative is added in order to "cheapen most expensive and finest bon bons of the the product" is not true in the sense in market. Every purchaser of these knows which such an expression is usually inthat the colors are added. They are bought tended. They are bought tended. When the authors of Bulletin No. in preference to non-colored products, because 100 took such pains to reason out such an they satisfy an instinctive longing for color. excuse for the definition they adopted for When canners declare that they add color the word "adulterated" they were practically to their products to give them "an appear- confessing their own error. The double ance which they say is more acceptable to meaning of their expression may be overtheir customers," they display a keener in- looked by the critical, but its deceptive imsight into human nature than do authors who plication is clear evidence of a lingering desire to prove that such additions are always tendency for the sensational rather than the evidences of fraud. Even the Pharmaco- truthful. The saving of buildings from depoeial preparations, and the preparations of struction may, in a sense, cheapen buildings the National Formulary, are not free from because of its keeping up supply, but this evidences of this human weakness. The is not the sense in which that expression is cochineal of compound tincture of cardamon used when it is applied to buildings of flimsy and the red saunders of compound tincture structure that have been made to sell cheaply. of lavender serve no therapeutic purpose It is precisely the same in the case of food. other than that produced by the pleasing To check the wholesale destruction of good colors. The pretty appearance of the various tomato stock may, in a sense, cheapen tomaelixirs of the market tell the same story. toes and tomato catsup, but the addition is Physicians in prescribing these to their pa- not "really made for the purpose of cheapentients do not deem them adulterated, and ing the product" in the unpleasant sense imyet there is not a particle of difference be- plied. To assume, that it is merely to help tween the adding of coloring matter to prove that an adulterated substance is one these, and the adding of coloring matter to that contains some foreign ingredient that foodstuffs. In the foods the presence of such "is neither a food nor a condiment," ap

« PreviousContinue »