HISTORY OF A CRIME
THE FIGHT FOR THE FOOD AND
It would be impossible and perhaps unnecessary to survey the wholefield of effort which led to the enactment of the Food and Drugs Law. It will besufficient to take the last of the hearings as typical of all those that had gonebefore. If the Latin motto is true, "ex pede, Herculem," we canjudge the whole of this opposition by its last expiring effort, just as we can recreateHercules if we have a. part of his big toe.
The final hearings were before the committeeon Interstate and Foreign Commerce, beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1906. This wasjust before the time the bill was completed in the Senate and after an agreementhad been made to vote on it the 21st of February. These hearings are printed in avolume containing 408 pages. Pages 1 to 40 are taken up with testimony that benzoateof soda is a perfectly harmless substance. These witnesses were made up of both manufacturersand experts. The experts were Dr. Edward Kremers, of the University of Wisconsin,Professor Frank S. Kedzie of the Agricultural College of Michigan, and Dr. VictorC. Vaughan, Dean of the College of Medicine of the University of Michigan. The manufacturerswho testified in this case unanimously said that the business of keeping food couldnot be carried on without the use of some preservative and that eminent scientificmen had declared that benzoate of soda, borax, etc., in the proportions used wereentirely harmless. Ex-Senator William S. Mason was also before the committee in theinterest of a bill prepared by Mr. Meyers, editor of the American Food Journal,ostensibly offered by food manufacturers. This was a publication devoted to the propagandaof rectified whisky.
EXCERPTS FROM FINAL HEARINGS
Although food bills of various kinds had beencontinually before Congress for a quarter of a century, the character of the oppositionthereto had not changed. The excerpts here given are typical of the whole struggle.
Inasmuch as this closing testimony was the finaleffort to block the passage of the food law, it is summarized at some length. Testimonyof Walter H. Williams, President of the Walter H. Williams Company, of Detroit, Michigan.(Page 19 of the hearings.)
In the most palatable foods that we can find there are tracesof benzoic acid, and it seems to me if the Almighty put it there, the manufacturerought to be allowed to use it, if he don't use it in the same quantities as put inthe fruit by nature. * * *
We went to three men, each of them connected with one of thelargest universities in the United States, men who stand at the very top of theirclass in the chemical and physiological world.
MR. TOWNSEND: Who were they?
MR. WILLIAMS: Dr. Victor Vaughan, who is dean of medicine andphysiology at the University of Michigan, a man whom I do not believe any one canspeak too highly of, a man right at the top of his profession. Another gentleman,Dr. Kremers, dean of chemistry of the University of Wisconsin. Another man who hasgiven the subject the very closest attention is Dr. Frank Kedzie of the MichiganAgricultural College. * * *
MR. TOWNSEND: Do you know of any manufacturer of these goodswho does not use some form of preservative?
MR. WILLIAMS: I do not.
MR. TOWNSEND: As a manufacturer, do you know of any way to manufacturethese goods and keep them as they have to be kept for sale, without a preservative?
MR. WILLIAMS: I do not.
MR. BURKE: Have you had any trouble in any of the states byreason of the state laws interfering with your using this preservative?
MR. WILLIAMS: Our firm has not. We have been told that as soonas this committee gets through with the hearings on this subject there is going tobe trouble in Pennsylvania. That is all we know about it.
MR. RICHARDSON: How? What troubles? In what way?
MR. WILLIAMS: We understand that the use of benzoic acid willbe condemned, and we also know that as soon as this bill becomes a law, if it everbecomes a law, it will be condemned by the Bureau of Chemistry. * * * Now, the onlypoint is--and all I wish to bring out now--that I don't think this committee oughtto recommend any legislation that will give one man the absolute power to say whatthe manufacturers of this country shall do and what they shall not do. There is adifference of opinion as to what is injurious and what is not injurious. We can showthat the best scientific thought in this country will differ with the present Bureauof Chemistry. Now, gentlemen, do not understand for a moment that I am attackingDr. Wiley or the Bureau of Chemistry or the Department of Agriculture. I am simplypointing out, or trying to point out, the principle of this bill. The principle iswrong. It is not fair; and I think before you allow anyone to condemn any preservativeabout which there is a question that you ought to investigate the subject fully bya committee of scientists--the best that we can find-appointed by the President orby Congress.
In this connection it is interesting to knowthat the bill subsequently passed by the House of Representatives contained, a clause,with my full approval, and written by myself, in which such a committee was recognized.Its composition was one eminent chemist, one eminent physiologist, one eminent pharmacist,one eminent bacteriologist, and one eminent pharmacologist. In view of the attitudewhich the Secretary of Agriculture held toward me at that time I was very certainthat he would consult me in regard to the personnel of this committee which was tobe appointed by him, and that not only eminent, but fair-minded members would beappointed on this committee. When the bill went to conference with the Senate billthe conferees on the part of the Senate would not consent to encumbering the billwith an additional authority paramount to that of the Bureau of Chemistry. The Senateconferees contended that the whole matter of wholesomeness and unwholesomeness ofingredients in foods would go before the Federal Courts for final determination.The House conferees yielded on this point and the food bill was passed without thenucleus of the Remsen Board. This view of Mr. Williams was shared by practicallyall the objecting witnesses, both scientific and legal, as well as all of those interestedin commercial matters throughout the whole course of the discussion of the variousfood bills before the committees of Congress. It was also voiced on the floors ofboth the Senate and the House. In spite of all this publicity and opposition theCongress. of the United States conferred upon the Bureau of Chemistry the sole functionof acting as a grand jury in bringing indictments against offenders or supposed offendersof the law. The Congress specifically provided that all these indictments shouldhave a fair, free and open trial before the Federal Courts for the purpose of confirmingor denying the acts of, the Bureau of Chemistry.
TESTIMONY OF PROFESSOR KREMERS
Professor Kremers at the close of his testimonybefore the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee disclosed the fact that Mr.Williams was the party who secured the participation of Professors Kremers, Kedzieand Vaughan in this hearing. I quote from page 39:
MR. KREMERS: I would like to state just what I have been invitedto do. I have been asked as a plant chemist, for that is my specialty in chemistry,to find out what could be learned about the occurrence of benzoic acid in the vegetablekingdom, and also to find out what the best literature, the physiological and therapeuticliterature on the subject, has to say with regard to the administration of benzoicacid to the human system and with regard to the course that it took in the humansystem. That is the extent of my knowledge on this particular subject. I have notgone outside of that.
THE CHAIRMAN: Is there an employment in connection with thismatter by you I?
MR. KREMERS: I was employed; yes, sir.
THE CHAIRMAN: By whom?
MR. KREMERS: By Mr. Grosvenor.
THE CHAIRMAN: What Mr. Grosvenor?
MR. KREMERS: Mr. Grosvenor of Detroit. Mr. Elliott O. Grosvenor.
THE CHAIRMAN: Was there a compensation fixed?
MR. KREMERS Yes, sir.
THE CHAIRMAN: Do you have any objection to stating it?
MR. KREMERS: No.
Mr. Kremers in detail stated in the testimonythe amount he was to receive for the work and the amount he was to receive in reportingthe results of his work to the committee. In his testimony, which I was asked tosummarize by the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Mr. Kremers gave theresults of his many investigations into natural food products in which he found tracesof benzoic acid and related bodies. I quote from his testimony, page 33:
MR. KREMERS: Gentlemen, I don't want to take up more of yourvaluable time unless you desire to ask some questions of me, for I fear I may nothave made myself perfectly clear. I will admit that I am accustomed to talking technicallyon technical subjects, and that I am not an expert in the popularization of scientificsubjects. I trust you will pardon my shortcomings in this respect. But briefly letme summarize the facts I have tried to make clear to you. Benzoic acid is found inthe vegetable kingdom; it is fairly widely distributed in the vegetable kingdom.We find it among others in the products of the vegetable kingdom which we use forfood purposes. We find it even more widely in food products which are used by herbivorousanimals. In addition to benzoic acid, we find closely related compounds, namely,benzaldehyde, commonly known as bitter-almond oil, cinnamic aldehyde and quinic acid.
I have tried to make plain the fact that benzoic acid is formedin the human system and that the amount of hippuric acid eliminated from the systemis increased whether we administer benzoic acid as such or whether we add it throughcertain food products; in other words, that benzoic acid is a natural product ofthe human economy.
Finally, I have tried to make clear to you, gentlemen, thatwhether it seems desirable to you or not to prohibit the use of benzoic acid fromany artificial source rather than the natural source, and there is no bitter-almondoil which, after it is a day old, but that contains some benzoic acid,--that benzoicacid directly or indirectly will be administered to the system through the bitter-almondflavor, as I have explained.
MR. TOWNSEND: You are not a physiologist, are you?
MR. KREMERS: I am not.
MR. TOWNSEND: Are you able to answer as to whether benzoic acidhas an injurious effect upon the body?
MR. KREMERS: I told you that I am not a physiologist, but Ihave prepared myself for a question of that sort, because it occurred to me thatit would be a natural question for you to ask. I have here, in order that I mightnot be compelled to rely entirely upon my memory, a copy of the National Dispensatory,one of the standard commentaries on the United States Pharmacopoeia, a statementconcerning the physiological action of benzoic acid. This statement is written byProfessor Hare, one of the most prominent writers in this country on therapeuticsubjects (Reads) :
"Ordinary doses cause a sense of warmth over the entire body, which feeling increases with the amount ingested, large quantities causing severe burning pain, etc. The drug increases the acidity of the urine as it is eliminated by the kidneys as hippuric acid."
Now, lest the statement might be misunderstood, let us readthe last paragraph; but it will be apparent to you that Mr. Hare does not speak ofbenzoic acid here in quantities such as have been under consideration before you,but in totally different amounts.
"It may be given with benefit in certain diseases due to alkalinity. Benzoic acid is given in the dose of from ten to thirty grains.
Those amounts may be administered by a medical man, and theyare very much larger than any amount that is necessary to bring about the preservativeaction.
MR. TOWNSEND: Does any antiseptic that is taken into the systeminterfere with digestion?
MR. KREMERS: I dare say it does.
MR. TOWNSEND: In that respect it is injurious?
MR. KREMERS: Not necessarily.
I thought it would be better for me to quotethe summary that Mr. Kremers himself made of his testimony rather than to attemptany condensation of it myself. I may add here for the further information of thereader of this story that Dr. W. D. Bigelow, my first assistant in the Bureau ofChemistry, repeated many of the investigations reported by Mr. Kremers, as to thewide distribution of benzoic acid in food products, and failed to confirm them.
PROFESSOR KEDZIE'S TESTIMONY
Dr. Kedzie testified that he is the son of ProfessorKedzie, the distinguished chemist of the Michigan Agricultural College. He was associatedwith his father as professor of chemistry at that institution, that he undertookthese investigations under the same auspices and practically for the same remunerationas was given to Professor Kremers and Professor Vaughan. I quote from page 58:
MR. KEDZIE: I took up this matter of finding where benzoic acidwas distributed among materials which I could purchase in the market. I will readthese articles in about the order in which I found the greatest quantity of benzoicacid: cranberries, huckleberries, plums, grapes (the Malaga grape), grapefruit, oranges,pineapples, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, rhubarb, and green peppers. The amountof benzoic acid which I found present in cranberries, taking the dry material, wefind the dried substance of the cranberry contains about, on the average, 1/2 of1% of benzoic acid, but when we calculate it as to the wet substance, it then fallsto 5/100 of 1% on account of the water present, or, to put it differently, it isone part in two thousand. * * * In analyzing the sample of catsup in the Michiganmarket I have found that the amount of benzoic acid varies from one part in twelvehundred to one part in two thousand. These are the first class goods, such as Heinzsells in Michigan, and also sold by Curtice Brothers.
THE CHAIRMAN: Do you find any benzoic acid in catsup made byHeinz?
MR. KEDZIE: Yes, sir; when it is sold in Michigan we do.
MR. MANN: Do you find it labeled that way?
MR. KEDZIE: The Michigan law requires that it shall be labeledwith the preservative used.
MR. MANN: Was it so labeled?
MR. KEDZIE: I believe that it was, but I am not absolutely certain.Living at the capital, I would expect that the law would be complied with. The commissioner'soffice is right where I live.
MR. MANN: I have been told that it never had been done, andwondered whether it had or not.
MR. KEDZIE: I am sorry that I can not be absolutely certainin regard to that.
MR. WAGNER: How recently have you examined Heinz's goods?
MR. KEDZIE: I collected a sample about three weeks ago, andI inquired particularly in getting the bottle, whether it had been long in stock,and was told that it had just been received about two or three days before.
MR. MANN: Have you a memorandum showing the percentage of benzoicacid in these other fruits?
MR. KEDZIE: I made a thorough test of each one and I am preparedto say that in the grapefruit and the pineapple the amount of benzoic acid presentthere will not probably be far from 1/100 to 2/100 of 1 per cent in the fresh fruit.
MR. MANN: Did you ascertain in each of these fruits just howmuch benzoic acid was there?
MR. KEDZIE: Only in the cranberries, and that I did over andover again. * * *
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. Hepburn): What would be the effect of a largedose of benzoic acid upon the human stomach?
MR. KEDZIE: Well, now, Mr. Chairman, I am not a physiologicalchemist. My work is analytical and what I know about that question is not much. Inever took a large dose of benzoic acid-that is, a large dose, of course, would be60 or 100 grains or more. I never took it and know nothing about it. I am not a doctorof medicine.
THE CHAIRMAN: From your knowledge of the properties and qualitiesof the acid, what would be the probable effect of benzoic acid upon the human stomach?
MR. KEDZIE: I should expect that if it were taken in very largedoses up to 100 grains that it would have an inflammatory action on the stomach.
THE CHAIRMAN: It would be an irritant?
MR. KEDZIE: It would be irritating; yes, sir.
THE CHAIRMAN: You regard it when used as a preservative, inthe proportions that were spoken of by Mr. Williams yesterday, as entirely harmless,do you?
MR. KEDZIE: That is my opinion; yes.
Perhaps the wisest comment I can make upon thetestimony of these experts is that they were honestly of the opinion that becausesome of these preservatives were found in natural food products it was perfectlyproper to imitate nature and increase these amounts. The weakness of this argumentis so apparent that only a few of the causes of the fallacy need be mentioned. Hydrocyanicacid, perhaps one of the most poisonous organic acids known, exists in minute tracesin the fruit of peaches and plums, associated often with benzaldehyde, a flavoringagent. It exists in some varieties of cassava in such proportions that fatal effectshave resulted from eating the cassava starch. Salicylic acid is present in a flavoringproduct known as oil of wintergreen and may exist, in traces, also in other foodproducts. Passing from the ranks of organic poisons, arsenic is a widely distributedpoisonous material which is often found in our foods, due to absorption from thesoil. The presence of these bodies, instead of being a warrant for using more ofthem, points to the necessity of reducing their quantity to the minimal amount possible.
Another point in this connection is worthy ofmention. These experts were paid for the work they did and for the expense of layingit before the committee. I mention this without even a suspicion of criticism. Ithink payment of this kind is perfectly ethical and proper. On the other hand, duringthe twenty-five years in which food bills of various kinds were discussed beforecommittees of Congress, not a single expert appeared before these committees urgingthe enactment of the good sort thereof who received any compensation whatever forhis services. Probably officials of the various states who appeared frequently beforecommittees of Congress to urge the passage of these bills had their expenses paidby their respective states, but received -no other compensation. In the twenty-fiveyears of active opposition to the use of preservatives it never occurred to me tothink of any compensation save that of my regular salary.
SUMMARY OF THE TESTIMONY OF VICTOR C. VAUGHAN
MR. VAUGHAN: I am thoroughly desirous that something shouldbe done to regulate the use of preservatives in foods.
MR. BURKE: Where would you draw the line? Where would you fixthe point beyond which it would be dangerous to go in the use of benzoic acid, asto quantity?
MR. VAUGHAN: That brings up a very interesting point. * * *It seems to me that that ought to be settled by a commission of experts, as to whatpreservatives could be used and in what amounts they could be used, and in what foodsthey might be used.
MR. STEVENS: In other words, you want a board or bureau of standards?
MR. VAUGHAN: I think so.
MR. BURKE: Have you not an opinion of your own in regard tothe matter?
MR. VAUGHAN: Yes; I have an opinion of my own, but that opinionmight be changed by further study of the subject. I am sure that benzoic, acid inthe quantities in which it is used in tomato catsup, sweet pickles, etc., does notdo any harm. I should be opposed to the use of formaldehyde in milk in any quantity,or the use of any other preservatives in milk. I have testified repeatedly againstthe use of sulphite of soda on Hamburger steak. I am thoroughly in sympathy withthe Hepburn bill. It does seem to me, however, that it is the part of wisdom notto say that preservatives shall not be used at all, but to find out what foods needpreservatives, and in what quantities they might be used with safety.
MR. BURKE: Is not formaldehyde used very generally now in preservingcream and milk?
MR. VAUGHAN: I do not think it is used generally. It is usedto some extent.
MR. BURKE: Where cream is gathered up and shipped some distanceto a creamery they use some preservatives, and usually formaldehyde, do they not?
MR. VAUGHAN: I do not know. I have not found much formaldehydein cream. Borax is used some, and one-half of one per cent of boric acid is used.Formaldehyde is used to some extent.
MR. MANN: Do you understand that the Hepburn bill absolutelyforbids the use of preservatives?
MR. VAUGHAN: No, Sir; but I find that it puts into the handsof one man, or of one Department, at least, the question of deciding as to the harmfulnessof preservatives.
MR, MANN: You say in the hands of one man or of one Department.Eventually it must be put into the hands of somebody to decide the question, in youropinion, I take it?
MR. VAUGHAN: Certainly, certainly.
MR. TOWNSEND: Right there I want to ask you this question; asI understand, some experiments have been made with benzoic acid to determine whetherit is harmful or not, by giving doses of pure benzoic acid to patients. What haveyou to say in regard to that method of determining the safety of benzoic acid--whetherit is harmful or otherwise?
MR. VAUGHAN: The experiments upon benzoic acid, I understand,have been finished by Dr. Wiley, but there is no report on them up to the presenttime. Dr. Wiley has made a report on boric acid as to preservatives, and while Iam a personal friend of Dr. Wiley's, appreciate him very highly and think greatlyof him, his experiments have shown that boric acid in large amounts disturbs digestionand interrupts good health, but they have not shown that boric acid in the smallquantities which would be used as a preservative, if used at all, has any effecton the animal body.
MR. ADAMS: About what do you mean by "small quantities"?.
MR. VAUGHAN: I mean one-half of one per cent.
Dr. Vaughan then engaged in a somewhat animateddiscussion with members of the committee in regard to what kind of board should beprovided for in the law to decide all these questions. At the end of this discussionthe following questions were asked:
MR. BURKE: When benzoic acid is taken in excessive quantitieswhat is the effect?
MR. VAUGHAN: In large quantities it irritates the stomach. Invery large quantities it causes acute inflammation of the mucous membranes of thestomach, nausea, and vomiting.
The maximum medical dose of benzoic acid is about ten grams,or one hundred fifty grains, and larger amounts are likely to cause inflammationof the stomach.
MR. MANN: How much benzoic acid could one eat, day after day,year after year, without injury?
MR. VAUGHAN: I could not answer that.
MR. MANN: Have you any idea about it? How much can you eat wholesomelywithout injury?
MR. VAUGHAN: I should say certainly that the amount that isfound in your own body, which is from one to ten grains a day.
MR. MANN: That is formed in addition to your own body. I askedhow, much can you eat?
MR. VAUGHAN: I would have to answer only in a general way andsay a grain or two, I am sure, taken day by day for one's life, would not do anyharm.
MR. MANN: Do you mean one grain or two grains?
MR. VAUGHAN: One grain.
MR. MANN: Would two grains do any harm?
MR. VAUGHAN: Well, I do not know. I would not like to set upmy dictum. I do not know enough about it.
MR. MANN: I appreciate your position, Doctor; but still, asfar as you can, we would like to have your opinion.
MR. VAUGHAN: Well, I should say one grain would be perfectlysafe. I do not know whether two grains would be or not.
It is not at all surprising that at the end ofthis examination by Mr. Mann, Dr. Vaughan had put himself in a most ticklish position.He was arguing for some amendment to the bill which would permit the use of benzoicacid in food products, but he, was under the impression that even one grain a dayfor every day would be safe, but by eating two grains a day for all one's life itmight not be safe. As two grains a day is a most minute quantity of benzoic acid,a quantity which would be exceeded if benzoic acid were used in foods in general,it is evident that such a course of reasoning could have little effect upon a deliberativebody.
TESTIMONY OF DR. ECCLES
The most spectacular of the witnesses who appearedagainst the bill was Dr. Eccles of Brooklyn. Dr. Eccles describes himself as a physicianresiding in Brooklyn and he appears at the invitation of the National Food Manufacturers'Association. There was evidently a period approaching when some kind of food lawwould be enacted. To protect the manufacturers a bill was introduced by Mr. Rodenberg,of Illinois. Mr. Lannen, a lawyer in the interest of this measure, who had been activelyopposed to the pending bill, was also present at the hearing. Dr. Eccles stressedthe fact that instead of trying to prevent the addition of preservatives to foodstheir use ought to be encouraged. Quoting (from page 131):
MR. RICHARDSON: Is vinegar deleterious?
DR. ECCLES: No, Sir; I do not think anything is. I would compelthem to use substances less deleterious than vinegar. I would not let them go belowvinegar. I would allow them to use substances the dose of which is smaller than adose of acetic acid or vinegar. Substances of larger doses than vinegar I would allowthem to put in a certain fraction of the dose, and I would make the fraction thesame for every substance, with no exception. I would have those gentlemen fixingthe Pharmacopoeia say that no substance could be used that is stronger than the acidof vinegar under any circumstances. * * * In other places, where the preservativeshave been stopped, the death rate has risen. Two notable illustrations have occurredlately--exceedingly notable. In North Dakota, the state of pure food--Senator McCumber'sstate--they tried the experiment. In Germany, particularly in Berlin, in the sameyear they tried the experiment. These two places were put up as tests. I predictedthat the death rate in both those places would rise fifty per cent in that year.Now, what are the official figures? The official figures given by the Board of Healthof the State of North Dakota and the :figures of the German Government in their ownpublications show that they transcended my prediction; that the deaths were nearlythree times as many as they were during the same period the year before.
THE CHAIRMAN: From what cause?
DR. ECCLES: I predicted it would occur if they stopped the useof preservatives, and it did occur just as I predicted from the stopping of the useof preservatives. In no other place in the world did the death rate rise as in Berlin,and in no other state in the United States did it rise as it did in North Dakota.
THE CHAIRMAN: The use of what preservatives was stopped?
DR. ECCLES: All.
Mr. Lannen followed Dr. Eccles with a long tiradeagainst the pending measure and in favor of substituting the Rodenberg bill therefor.Warwick M. Hough, attorney for the National Wholesale Liquor Dealers Associationof America, endeavored to have the pending measure changed so that deleterious substancesin compounded and blended whiskies should have the same protection that similar substanceshad in straight whisky. Mr. Hough had appeared many times before the committees endeavoringto secure immunity for the artificially compounded whiskies. He evidently saw clearlywhat would happen to artificial whisky if the pending measure should become a law.His foresight was prophetic. After the law became effective and the definitions ofthe Bureau of Chemistry for whisky went into effect, Mr. Hough carried the case toseveral United States Courts. In all about eight different suits were instituted,the purpose of which was to declare the standards of whisky established, by the Bureauof Chemistry illegal. In every single instance Mr. Hough's clients were defeated.
Appearing in behalf of the pending measure Mr.Edward W. Taylor, of Frankfort, Kentucky, reviewed Mr. Hough's arguments and showedto the committee their fallacy. On page 173 he says:
MR. TAYLOR: This investigation in 1893 of the whisky trust showedthat the people of the United States were being imposed on to such an extent thatthis committee recommended to Congress that it incorporate into law a suggestionmade by the deputy commissioner of Internal Revenue, Mr. Wilson, which was the originof what is known as the "Bottling in Bond" act--a national law which enjoysso much disparagement that it is a pleasure to me to have the opportunity to explainit. The reason it has such disparagement is because the other 95 per cent of theso-called whisky on the American market today is the spurious article and can notget the guarantee stamp which is put over bottled in bond whisky. * * * And I havehere the report of the Ways and Means committee in the House, in recommending thebill for passage--approving the bill. Here is the official report. It is all verywell for Mr. Hough or myself to come up here and express an opinion as to the intentionof the law, but I think it is to the advantage of this committee if we can producesome official expression as to the purpose of the law, and take the matter out ofcontention. * * *
" The obvious purpose of the measure is to allow the bottlingof spirits under such circumstances and supervision as will give assurances to allpurchasers of the purity, of the article purchased, and the machinery devised foraccomplishing this makes it apparent that this object will certainly be accomplished.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT M. ALLEN, OF LEXINGTON, KY.
Mr. Allen was the militant administrator of thefood laws of Kentucky. As a state official he realized most keenly the need of anational law. He had heard the arguments against adopting this measure most patiently.The impression he gained from listening to this testimony is thus illustrated byhis own words (page 20-5).
ROBERT M. ALLEN
I want to say in this connection right here that there are twosides to this food proposition. There is the side which agitates and clouds the issue,brings up this point and that point, which, perhaps, does not materially affect thequestion; but when you come specifically down to these questions: Should glucosebe sold as glucose or as honey or maple syrup? Should any synthetic product be soldunder the name and trade terms of the genuine product which it is designed to imitate?Should a preservative be allowed use without any control or restriction?--when youcome down to those propositions I think that not only the food commissioners, butthe majority of the reputable manufacturers are agreed. But I say, Mr. Chairman,that I can take a committee from food manufacturers which would meet good men likeyourself and others in Congress who are interested on this subject and cut asidefrom all of these issues that have been clouding and confusing the main central idea,and I believe that you could all agree upon a bill which would be fair and equitableto all and which would accomplish the purposes for which we are working along thelines of national pure-food legislation. In our Kentucky work we are not only thefood commissioners of the people, the consumers, but we are also the food commissionersof every reputable manufacturer, and he has a hearing, a frank man-to-man hearing,whenever he wants to come in and discuss the subject.
At that time the chairman of the committee, theHon. W. P. Hepburn of Iowa, gave notice that the hearings in favor of and againsta food law preventing adulterations of the kind described were closed. Thus thosewho had for twenty-five years favored all kinds of adulterations and misbrandingwere finally shut out of any further participation in forming a food and drug act.
CLOSING ADDRESS OF DR. WILEY
The Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry had beeninformed by Mr. Hepburn and his lieutenant, the Hon. James R. Mann, that he shouldhave the final summary of the evidence both for and against preservatives in foods.Accordingly he was given ample time to summarize the principal arguments for andagainst preservatives as affecting the public health. His testimony begins on page237 and extends to the end of the report on page 408.
DR. WILEY: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: At therequest of your chairman and in harmony with the terms of the resolution passed byyour honorable body, and with the consent of the Secretary of Agriculture, I appearbefore you for the purpose of summing up the expert testimony which has been offeredin the hearings held before your committee during the past fortnight on the pendingmeasure concerning the regulation of interstate and foreign commerce in foods. Numerousexpert witnesses have appeared before your body, mostly in opposition to the pendingmeasure, and a few witnesses have appeared in favor thereof. I appear before younot as the advocate of any particular measure, but as an advocate of legislationof some kind controlling interstate and foreign commerce in adulterated and misbrandedfoods and drugs. I shall support with what influence I may possess any bill whichyour honorable body in its wisdom may report, although it might not, and probablywould not, meet with my entire approbation. I do not believe it is possible to drawany measure of this kind which would receive the unqualified support of all parties.It becomes necessary, therefore, in measures of this kind to keep in view the principleof the legislation and to regard as of minor importance the various details whichmay be devised to obtain the end in view.
In the discussion of some of the principal points which havebeen presented, I wish to be understood as according to each witness the same sincerity,the same desire to present the facts, and the same freedom from bias in interpretingthem that I shall hope may be attributed to me. The cause of truth is never hurtby unjust attacks and its citadel never reached by the devious ways of unworthy foes,but it is sometimes weakened by the unguided enthusiasms of its defenders.
I therefore accord honesty of purpose and sincerity of effortto those whose contentions I feel impelled to resist. I desire to point out whereinI think they have fallen into errors of statement followed by fallacious reasoningleading to wrong conclusions. I want to point out how they have misunderstood theefforts which have been made to ascertain certain facts relating to the effect ofpreservatives, coloring matters, and other substances added to foods on health anddigestion; how they have misinterpreted the purpose and scope of the food standardswhich have been proclaimed by the Secretary of Agriculture in accordance with an.act of Congress, and have, as a result of these erroneous views, created what seemsto them a demon of future dangers, but which is nothing more than a phantom of aperturbed imagination.
In doing this I shall speak frankly and freely, without anybias or rancor, without any feeling of resentment for the many denunciations andanathemas which have been published all over this broad land and in Europe duringthe past two years.
I hope you may not conclude from the necessary trend of my argumentthat I oppose all use of preservatives and coloring matters in foods. On the contrary,there are doubtless often conditions when the use of preservatives is indicated.In countries which are unable to produce their own foods, as for instance England,on journeys to distant or difficultly, accessible places, such as mines and loggingcamps and long journeys on the sea, and in other exigencies, preservatives may beindicated. I also think that the consumer who prefers them should not be denied thatpreference. My argument, therefore, applies to the usual conditions which obtainin this country and especially to the apparent fact that the great majority of ourpeople seem to prefer their food untreated with noncondimental preservatives.
As it has appeared to me from listening to a part of the testimonyand reading a part thereof, the character of the opposition to the pending measuremay be described as follows:
I will begin by a statement of the grounds of the oppositionof the first class of objections. This opposition has not been brought out by anyof the witnesses who have been called upon to testify; but is based upon broad Constitutionalgrounds and is of a character to command profound respect and careful consideration.I refer to the views which are held by many distinguished and earnest men to theeffect that the cardinal provisions of the bill are unconstitutional. This is a matter,therefore, which does not call for any further consideration on my part.
The second class of objections to the bill: The prohibitionprinciples of the pending bill consist in the elimination of harmful and injuriousingredients which may be added to foods. I may say, and the statement is rather abroad one, that there is no opposition to such a prohibition, as no one has advocated,in so far as I have been able to find in the testimony, a permission to add harmful,deleterious, or poisonous substances to foods, except Dr. Eccles.
The objections have rather lain against the possible decisionsas of the courts in such matters, and especially against the, method of collectingevidence for the prosecution. It is, of course, self evident that no prosecutioncould be brought, under these prohibition provisions unless some one should certifythat any given added substance was harmful, deleterious or poisonous. The opposition,therefore, to this provision of the bill has voiced itself in an argument that thecommittee. should insert prohibitive provisions in the bill against this prohibition.Plainly stated, the contention has been made that the Congress of the United Statesshould declare by act that certain substances in certain proportions are not harmful,deleterious, or poisonous substances.
The only expert testimony which has been submitted on this question,which is worthy of any consideration by your committee, is that which was offeredby Professor Kremers, of the University of Wisconsin, Professor Kedzie, of the AgriculturalCollege of Michigan, and Professor Vaughan, of the University of Michigan. The highcharacter and attainments of these experts entitle their views to the most profoundand respectful consideration.
The wide distribution of benzoic acid in vegetable products,as described by Professor Kremers, is well known to physiological and agriculturalchemists. He says that in the destruction of certain proteins in the human economybenzoic acid is formed, which is then changed into hippuric acid. There is no evidencethat I have been able to find to show that hippuric acid may not be formed from thebenzol radical without its passing through the benzoic acid state. But this is oflittle importance, because even if benzoic acid should precede the formation of hippuricacid it could only exist in the most minute quantities and for a relatively veryshort period of time. Hippuric acid is one of the natural toxic or poisonous bodiesproduced in catabolic activity, which, like urea and other degradation products ofproteins, must be at once eliminated from the system to avoid injury. Uremic poisoningat once supervenes on the suppression of the excretive activities of the kidneys,and unless this condition is removed death speedily results.
This brief summary of the opposition to the foodand drugs act during the time it was before Congress accentuates the fact that itis essentially a health measure, as has been officially confirmed by a decision ofthe Supreme Court of the United States.
There had been little discussion during the wholetwenty-five years of the subject of misbranding. This was such an apparent and unnecessaryevil that it had few defenders. During all this time the chief discussion was theeffect upon health of certain preservatives and coloring matters, and as to the selectionof officials for carrying the law into effect. It was the unanimous opinion of allopponents of the law that the Bureau of Chemistry should have nothing to do withits enforcement. It was well understood that the attitude of the Bureau of Chemistrywas distinctly hostile to the use of chemical preservatives of any kind in food andthat all such manipulations threatening the health of the American consumer wouldbe frowned upon. In spite of many attempts to prevent it, Congress deliberately andoverwhelmingly decided to submit the execution of the law to the Bureau of Chemistry.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
In the future the student of history who maywish to review all that was said and done during the fight for the enactment of thepure food law will find all, the hearings in the libraries connected with the variouscommittees in Congress in charge of these hearings. They are a thesaurus of interestingfacts which the future historian ought not to overlook.
FURTHER EXCERPTS FROM THE CLOSING SUMMARY
MR. BARTLETT: I would conclude, then, that you think benzoicacid as a preservative is not necessary.
DR. WILEY: I think you forecast my argument very well.
MR. ADAMSON: Before you became a chemist, you saw women makecatsup and put it up hot in sealed bottles and keep it a long time, didn't you?
DR. WILEY: Yes, sir.
MR. ADAMSON: Without putting anything in it?
DR. WILEY: Excepting the ordinary spices and condiments. I wantto call the especial attention of this committee to this argument which I am presenting.I will state it again without reading from my manuscript, so as to make it perfectlydistinct.
The human body is required to do a certain amount of normalwork. That amount of normal work is a beneficial exercise of these organs. If youdiminish the normal work of an organ you produce atrophy--lack of functional activity.If you increase it hypertrophy ensues, and increase of functional activity. Nearlyall of the organs that wear out do so from one of those causes, not from normal exerciseof their functions. Therefore, assuming that the food of man, as prepared by theCreator and modified by the cook, is the normal food of man, any change in the foodwhich adds a burden to any of the organs, or any change which diminishes their normalfunctional activity, must be hurtful.
MR. ESCH: If the organs were always normal, death would notensue?
DR. WILEY: I will not go so far as that, Mr. Esch. I do, referto longevity, though, and I believe this with all my heart, that when man eats anormal food normally the length of human life will be greatly extended. That is whatI believe. But if we consume abnormal food abnormally we shall lessen the lengthof human life.
MR. TOWNSEND: Who is going to define normal food; there is agreat difference of opinion about that?
DR. WILEY: I will admit that.
MR. MANN: Doctor, do you think the action of eating cranberrieswith turkeys is detrimental to health in any way or to any degree?
DR. WILEY: I will answer that as categorically as I can. I donot believe that a healthy organism is going to receive any permanent injury or measurableinjury by eating cranberries because they contain benzoic acid. And I want to addthis, that it is not because they contain benzoic acid that they are wholesome, butthat if they did not contain it they would be more wholesome than they are.
I want to accentuate this point: I noticed very many questionsfrom many members of the committee which lead me to think that you have this feeling,that if a substance does not hurt you so that you can measure it it is not harmful.That does not follow at all. Take this one substance of benzoic acid. Benzoic acidnever takes any part in the formation of tissue, and its. degradation product ishippuric acid, which is a most violent poison. If the kidneys should cease to actfor twenty-four hours there is not a man on this committee who would not be at death'sdoor from the hippuric acid and the urea which would be in the blood. Hippuric acidis perhaps far more poisonous than urea; it is a deadly poison. Therefore naturegets rid of it directly it is formed, otherwise health would be destroyed.
Now, is there force in the argument, gentlemen, that in viewof the fact that this degradation product comes from the natural foods which we eat--andI am not criticizing the Creator at all for putting them in the food--then benzoicacid, which occurs in natural foods and of which the degradation product is a violentpoison if increased by an infimitesimal amount, and although we may not be able tonote any injury coming from it, yet should we be advised to use it? There is a subtleinjury which will tell in time. For instance, a mathematician desires to make a curveto express inflnitesimally small values which only the mathematician can consider,and to do that he has to have experimental evidence. He can not experiment at thesmall end of his curve; it is impossible. He experiments upon the part of the curvethat he can measure, fixes the ordinates and the abscissas with the points that hecan measure. Then he draws his curve, passing into the infnitesimally small values.And it is the same with the substances added to food. You must construct your curveon data which you can measure, and then you draw your curve down to the inflnitesimallysmall. That curve is a curve the moment it varies from zero, although you can notsee it or measure it. If you add any substance to food--add, I say--which producesa poisonous degradation product, or adds one additional burden to the secretory organs,you have changed that infinitesimal small part of your curve that you can not measure,but the change is there all the same.
MR. MANN: Take the case of cranberries. Does benzoic acid inthe cranberries to the extent that the benzoic acid exists injure cranberries asa food?
DR. WILEY: It is so small. that you can not measure its harmfuleffects.
MR. MANN: But to the extent that it exists at all; or that theother values in cranberries as a food in the normal use of them overcome the injuriouseffects of benzoic acid. If that be the case, might not that be the case of otherpreservatives in other foods?
DR. WILEY: What is true of one is true of all.
MR. MANN: But with artificial preservatives. Might not the casearise where, although the food is injured to the extent in which the preservativeexists, yet it has preserved the food so that it is better food, the total productis better than the food would have been without the preservative. That is what wewant to get at here.
DR. WILEY: I stated that particularly in my introduction. Isaid there were many places where preservatives were indicated. Wherever you canmake food better, where it is impossible to have it without having a preservative,certainly the preservative is indicated.
MR. ADAMSON: I am curious to ask you, before you leave the subjectof cranberries, about the effect of berries, in which I am locally interested. Ican give up cranberries, but I can not give up blackberries and huckleberries. ** *
MR. BARTLETT: Did you see the account in yesterday's Heraldabout the dinner that some chemist gave to a friend in New York, at which everythingthey ate was made out of acids and things of that kind?
MR. MANN: Synthetic products?
MR. BARTLETT: Yes.
DR. WILEY: Yes, sir; I saw the account, and I know the gentlemenvery well. I don't believe any of them would care to eat that kind of a dinner everyday. It is like my very distinguished friend, Professor Chittenden, perhaps the mostdistinguished physiological chemist in this country, who proved conclusively to himselfthat man in his natural tastes ate too much protein. The average man instead of eating17 grams of nitrogen in a day, as he does, ought not to eat more than 10 or 11. Butalmost every man taught to do that, I understand, has gone back to the old way, althoughapparently it was beneficial at the time.
MR. TOWNSEND: Professor Chittenden does not agree with you inregard to the use of preservatives.
DR. WILEY: I think not; I think he does not agree with me. Iwant to say here, Mr. Chairman, that experts never think the less of each other becausethey disagree; it is the natural condition of humanity.
MR. ADAMSON: You did not really run a boarding house on pills,paregoric, and other things, did you?
DR. WILEY: I ran a boarding house something of the kind youdescribe for four years, and I am running it to-day; and would be pleased to haveyou come down and take a meal with us.
MR. ADAMSON: I think I would prefer to have a colored womando the cooking for me.
DR. WILEY: We have a colored cook. You will hear more aboutthat boarding house later on.
MR. BARTLETT: I understood you to say you knew these gentlemenin New York who gave this dinner that we were speaking about a moment ago?
DR. WILEY: I know them very well.
MR. BARTLETT: They are reliable gentlemen?
DR. WILEY: Oh, yes; perfectly so. In fact, I have a very highopinion of the chemists of this country. Just as high when they differ from as whenthey agree with me.
MR. ADAMSON: While you have such a high opinion, yet you donot take their judgment in these instances?
DR. WILEY: Certainly not; I should not occupy such a position.I do not want anybody else to judge for me the results of my own work. I want todo that myself.
MR. ADAMSON: I wanted to give you a chance to disclaim that.
DR. WILEY: Not only disclaim it, but I never have put myselfin any such position and never intend to.
Now I will go on with my statement.
Because nature produces an almost infinitesimal quantity ofsubstances in foods which add to the quantity of these poisonous excreta appearsto me to be no valid argument for their wholesomeness. Could even the small traceof substances in our foods which produces hippuric acid be eliminated, the excretoryorgans would be relieved of a useless burden and the quantity of work required bythem be diminished. This would be conducive to better health and increased longevity.I fail to see the force of the argument that a deliberate increase of the work requiredby the adding of substances capable of producing poisonous degradation products ishelpful and advisable. Granting, for the sake of the argument, the grounds of a traceof benzoic acid and its analyses in all the substances mentioned by Professor Kremers,we do not find that this is a warrant to add more of these bodies, but, on the contrary,a highly accentuated warning to avoid any additional burden. That benzoic acid isa useful medicine, no one who has ever studied medicine will deny, but I think almostevery practicing physician will tell you that the exhibition of drugs having a medicinalvalue in case of health is highly prejudicial to the proper activity of these drugswhen used in disease. The excretory organs of the body become deadened in their sensibilitiesby the continued bombardment to which they are subjected and do not respond at theproper time to the stimulus which a medicine is supposed to produce. Keeping thehand in cold water constantly would unfit it to be benefited by the addition of acold application for remedial purposes.
I think that I need only call the attention of the committeeto the wide distinction between a drug used for medicinal purposes and a food productto show them that all reasoning based on the value of drugs as medicines is totallyinapplicable to their possibly beneficial effects in foods. I further think I shallbe sustained almost unanimously by the medical profession of the United States whenI say to this committee that the "drug habit," which is so constantly andso unavoidably, I am sorry to say, formed in this country is one of the greatestsources of danger to the public health and of difficulty in the use of remedial agentsthat can well be imagined. Professor Kremers, on page 33, seeks to justify the statementhe reads from Professor Hare respecting the properties of benzoic acid by sayingthat benzoic acid is useful in diseases of the urinary organs which produce alkalinity.I will show this committee later on that small doses of borax bring about this abnormalcondition of the urine, and therefore it might be advisable in using borax, whichhas been pronounced harmless by some experts here, to be able to counteract one ofits particularly certain effects by administering a remedy at the same time thatyou supply the cause of the disease. For this reason your committee might well sayin the bill that whenever borax is used in foods benzoic acid should also be usedas a corrective of its dangerous influences.
I am somewhat surprised also at the reference that ProfessorKremers makes to salt, on page 34. Salt is not only a delightful condiment, but anabsolute necessity to human life, and the fact that excessive doses of salt are injurioushas no more to do with this argument than the fact that you can make yourself illby eating too much meat. It seems to me astonishing in these days of rigid scientificinvestigation that such fallacious reasoning can be seriously indulged in for thesake of proving the harmlessness of a noncondimental substance. Yet this is the argumentadvanced by Professor Kremers on page 34 in respect of salt, wood smoke, and otheruseful, valuable, and necessary condimental bodies. The argument in regard to benzaldehydein ice cream is on the same plane. The substance known as ice cream, as usually made,is an inferior food product at best, and how it could be improved by the additionof a substance which increases the quantity of poisonous principles in the excrementsis a matter entirely beyond my comprehension. I am perfectly familiar with the argumentthat this small quantity would not produce any harm. It is doubtless true, Mr. Chairman,that a slight increase for one day or even oftener of these bodies in the food wouldproduce practically no measurable effect upon a healthy individual for a long time,but that in the end it would produce no harmful effect is contrary to all the rulesof physiology and logic.
The body wears out and death supervenes in natural order fromtwo causes: First, from a failure of the absorptive activities of the metabolic processes,and, second, by an increased activity of the catabolic processes, producing increasedamounts of poisonous and toxic matters in the system, while the excretory organsare less able to care for them. Thus the general vitality of the body is graduallyreduced, and even old age, which is regarded as a natural death, is a result of thesetoxic activities carried through a period of time varying in extreme old age fromeighty to one hundred years. This process is described by Professor Minot, of HarvardUniversity, as the differentiation and degeneration of. the protoplasm. On the contrary,it is not difficult to show that .every condimental substance, by its necessary andgenerally stimulating effect upon the excretory organs which produce the enzymesof digestion, produces a positively helpful result, while its preservative propertiesare incidental merely thereto. Condiments are used not simply because they are preservatives,but because without them the digestive organs would not respond to the demands ofnature, and therefore I ask your very careful consideration of the arguments basedupon a comparison of noncondimental preservatives added to foods and the use of thecondimental substances which are natural and necessary. I do not believe that yourminds will be misled in the consideration of this important and radical distinction.
A careful review of other parts of the argument of ProfessorKremers shows that he unwittingly admits the poisonous and deleterious propertiesof benzoic acid by calling attention, on page 35, to the fact that when doses ofit are added to an kinds of stock, so called, preserved in large quantities, it isboiled out or disappears by sublimation during subsequent treatment. If benzoic acidis a. harmless substance, as suggested, why should so much importance be attachedby its advocates to the fact that it is practically eliminated? Thus the advocatesof benzoic acid at once, by their own words, show the insecurity of the platformon which they stand.
MR. TOWNSEND: Did you understand him to testify in that wayas showing that that was the reason it was not harmful?
DR. WILEY: No; excepting it was boiled out.
MR. TOWNSEND: That was in answer to a question.
MR. ESCH: The use of it more particularly with reference tothe preparation of the stock.
DR. WILEY: Yes; I have mentioned that in large quantities, inrelation to the stock.
You are asked to insert in this bill a provision which willallow the use of one-fourth or one-fifth of 1 per cent of benzoic acid in food products,which is practically ten times that found, as stated by Professor Kremers, in thecranberry, which, of all known vegetable substances used as foods, contains the largestquantity. Fortunately, cranberries are not an article of daily diet. Do not, I begof you, lose view of the fact that because a single dose of benzoic acid does notmake you ill its daily consumption is wholly harmless. This is a non-sequiturof the most dangerous character.
Professor Kremers says that he has searched through all literatureand has not found a statement that benzoic acid administered even in medicinal doseswould produce harm. I would like to compare this with his own quotation of ProfessorHare, in which it is said:
Ordinary doses cause a sense of warmth through the entire body, which feeling increases with the amount ingested, large quantities causing severe burning pain.
Asked by Mr. Richardson, Professor Kremers acknowledged thatthere might be many persons who would be injuriously affected by benzoic acid. Now,when anyone is accused of a crime it is no defense to prove that the crime was notcommitted against a hundred or a million individuals. It is sufficient to prove thatit was committed against one. Professor Kremers acknowledges that benzoic acid maybe harmful, therefore Professor Kremers has convicted benzoic acid as being a harmfulsubstance; and, therefore, his argument that it should be used indiscriminately infoods, or, as asked when before this committee, be permitted to the extent of one-fourthof 1 per cent, being ten times the quantity produced in its most abundant naturalsubstance, seems wholly illogical.
MR. TOWNSEND: That would be true of any article; that not onlyapplies to a preservative, but it applies to all kinds of foods as well.
DR. WILEY: Well, yes; but foods and drugs must be regarded differently.
MR. BARTLETT: There are people who can not eat food ordinarilyregarded as harmless. There are certain people who can not drink sweet milk; andI know people who can not eat eggs of any description, nor anything that has an eggin it. Now, do you think that everybody ought to be prevented from eating eggs ordrinking milk if a half a dozen people in a thousand are injuriously affected bythem?
DR. WILEY: Certainly not; nor would I prevent anybody from usingbenzoic acid who wanted to do it, but I certainly would help persons from using itwho did not want to use it. I am not advocating the prohibition of the use of benzoicacid by anybody who wants to use it. I would be in favor of putting benzoic acidin a little salt-cellar, the same as is used for salt and pepper, and letting thepeople use it if they want to. I think benzoic acid would not hurt me, or be injuriousto my system, if I used it one day--
MR. BARTLETT: You know some people have tried to eat a quaila day for thirty days, but they get sick.
MR. ADAMSON: Is there not a great difference between the occasionaluse of these poisons medicinally, in cases of emergency, and the use of them in anyquantities in food?
DR. WILEY: I think that is a great point. I will come presentlyto the statement of Professor Vaughan, which covers that case beautifully in thetestimony he gave here.
There are two points that I wanted to call to the attentionof the committee. One is that we have examined a number of substances in which Dr.Kedzie testified that he has found benzoic acid, and we have found none.
MR. BARTLETT: What substances are those?
DR. WILEY: Dr. Kedzie testified that he had found benzoic acidin cranberries, huckleberries, plums, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, carrots,pears, cauliflower, rhubarb, and green peppers.
We have obtained from the open market samples of the followingfruits and vegetables, said by Professor Kedzie to contain benzoic, and tested themfor benzoic acid:
Malaga grapes, grapefruit, oranges, pineapples (two varieties),carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, rhubarb, and green peppers. We were unable to obtainany indication of benzoic acid in any of these fruits with the exception of pineapples,where in one test of one variety there was a reaction which might have been causedby a trace of benzoic acid. On repeating the test on a fresh portion of the sample,however, the test could not be confirmed. The test obtained, however, even if causedby benzoic acid, was so slight that the substance could not have been present ingreater quantity than one part per million, or one ten-thousandth of 1 per cent.It is certain from our analyses that benzoic acid is not present in this substancein the quantities stated by Doctor Kedzie, viz., from one one-hundredth to two one-hundredthsof 1 per cent.
In 1904 1 obtained samples of huckleberries grown in three regionsof the United States and did not succeed in obtaining the slightest indication ofbenzoic acid in any of them.
Professor Kedzie also dwells upon the fact that in the processof cooking a great deal of the benzoic; acid escapes. Inasmuch as he contends thatit is harmless, the object of enforcing this view of the case is not apparent, althoughI do not doubt its accuracy.
Professor Kedzie found catsup made by Heinz, when sold in Michigan,to contain benzoic acid. Mr. Allen finds that when sold in Kentucky, it does notcontain any benzoic acid. Professor Kedzie states that he has determined that theamount of benzoic acid in grapes is not far from one one-hundredth to one two-hundredthsof 1 per cent. It requires, of course, very delicate manipulations to quantitativelydetermine these small quantities and very large quantities of samples must be taken.We feel certain that Professor Kedzie has utilized much more delicate methods thanwe have been able to develop in our own laboratory and I regret that he .did notdisclose the methods employed to the committee.
Professor Kedzie testifies that the artificial product addedto a food does not differ from the article naturally present in food. He testifiesthat it is present as pure benzoic acid in either case. This statement would meanthat if you should take some butter and skim milk and beat them up together the productwill be exactly. the same as that of the original full-cream milk. This is a remarkabledoctrine in physiological chemistry, and upon this doctrine could be establishedthe perfect wholesomeness of all synthetic foods. This will be strange doctrine tothe makers of champagne. For instance, a still wine having practically the same compositionas champagne, when artificially carbonated with the same quantity of carbonic acidwhich would be found in the natural champagne, is exactly the same substance as thearticle made naturally by fermentation in the bottle by the slow and tedious processemployed. Every physician who prescribes champagne and every man who drinks it willwithout hesitation doubt this statement.
Professor Kedzie testifies that he is not a physiological chemistand not a doctor of medicine. On the same page, however, he testifies that between60 and 100 grains, a large amount, a teaspoonful or a tablespoonful or somethinglike that, would have an inflammatory action upon the stomach. When asked in regardto its specific effect in small doses, he said:
I eat cranberries right straight through the season. I like the cranberries, and I see no untoward effects whatever from their use. I never took benzoic acid except in that form and in the form of catsup.
He therefore testifies, as he says, from his own personal experience,and. at the same time says that he never took any except that which was natural tocertain foods and introduced in catsup. Professor Kedzie has already testified thatcranberries contain only five one-hundredths of 1 per cent of benzoic acid. The amountwhich he took daily he does not state, but it evidently must have been quite smallin quantity, and, more than that, it was in the form in which the Author of Naturehad placed it and not in an artificial or adulterated form. From this remarkablemetabolic experiment Professor Kedzie says that he can testify from his own experiencethat benzoic acid is not harmful. I ask you, gentlemen, to consider in all seriousnessexpert testimony of that description and compare it with the elaborate trial andcontinued experimental work conducted in the Department of Agriculture on similarlines of inquiry which I have mentioned.
I quote Professor Kedzie's experiments with boric acid and salicylicacid:
I investigated bulk oysters, for instance, and found the presence of boric acid in a small amount. We investigated shrimps, also, which I found at the market and brought to the laboratory. That is my way of teaching. I investigated the shrimps and found in the shrimp liquor, on evaporating it, that there was a considerable amount of boric acid. Then, I took a sample of pickles from my grocer--pickles that I eat myself--and tested them and found in the vinegar of the pickles sulphurous acid to prevent that little growth of mold that is so objectionable to the consumer.
MR. BURKE: To what extent did you find sulphurous acid in thevinegar that you have just spoken of?
MR. KEDZIE: I did not estimate the exact amount, but it wasvery small. It takes very little to inhibit the growth of a mold in the vinegar.
MR. ESCH: What determination did you reach in regard to cranberries?
DR. WILEY: His analysis and ours agreed almost exactly.
MR. TOWNSEND: Did you examine more than one specimen of thecranberries?
DR. WILEY: We examined a large number. That is only a question,however, of analytical detail. I only present that, not to throw any doubt on thefact of the wide distribution of benzoic acid, which no one denies.
I also want to call the attention of the committee to DoctorKedzie's expert testimony to the effect on his health, and ask you to compare thefew samples of cranberries that he has eaten, and few samples of ketchups, with thecareful determination which we have made. That is all. The rest is confirmatory ofwhat Professor Kedzie says.
I say here that I am sorry that Professor Kedzie did not submithis methods of examination; and I would like to incorporate in the minutes the methodswhich we have used so he can review our work if he desires.
MR. EXCH: Do you know of any other analysts who have found benzoicacid in these fruits?
DR. WILEY: No; I do not. I have never seen any results exceptingthese of Professor Kedzie and Professor Kremers.
DR. VAUGHN'S TESTIMONY
Now I come to the most important testimony, that of Dr. Vaughan,and I shall ask the indulgence of the committee to speak at some little length onthat point.
DR. VAUGHAN'S thorough training and large experience and scientificmethods of work have fitted him particularly well to speak on a subject of this kind.I quote, therefore, with pleasure from his testimony.
I want to say, and I should have said in the beginning, that I am very anxious that Congress should do something to regulate the use of preservatives in foods. I think that the use of preservatives in foods may be and often is overdone and that great harm may come from their excessive use. The law requires of a physician before he can prescribe benzoic acid or sulphurous acid or anything of that kind a certain degree of education and that he must pass a State examination.
I am willing to stand with Dr. Vaughan on this one proposition,which I indorse in every word. Of course he must agree with me that if a physician,who of all men knows the responsibility which rests upon him in connection with hisprofession, is not allowed to prescribe benzoic acid until he has studied four yearsor longer in a medical college, received a diploma, and passed an examination beforea State board of examiners, then surely no manufacturer without any education ofa medical character, without ever having passed any examination, without having asingle faculty of knowledge respecting the use of drugs, should be allowed to putany benzoic acid or any other drug of any kind in his foods. I think I might omitany mention of the rest of Dr. Vaughan's testimony with that simple statement ofhis, which covers the ground so absolutely and effectively.
MR. TOWNSEND: He was testifying, was he not, as an expert whohad had experience with benzoic acid, and he stated, as an expert, as a physician,who was trained and experienced in administering this drug, that such an amount wasnot harmful. That is what he stated, is it not? He did not state that they shouldbe allowed to use all that they saw fit; in fact, the trend of his whole examinationwas that this should be passed upon by a board of experts as to the amount that shouldbe used. That was his conclusion.
DR. WILEY: That is true. I only call attention to the basicproposition. He says in the beginning--I do not think it is unfair to quote Dr. Vaughan'swords, word for word.
MR. BARTLETT: Oh, no, I did not say that; but people can takea Bible and prove by words and quotations from it that they are justified in believingthat there is no God.
MR. KENNEDY: A doctor would not be permitted to prescribe anythingas a doctor until he had been licensed, but I can prescribe if I do not charge forit. I can advise the use of meats and other things to be eaten, and so on, with profitand benefit, and I would not come within any prohibition of law, would I?
MR., BARTLETT: No; not unless you prescribed for pay.
MR. GAINES: Unless I did it as a doctor.
DR. WILEY: The manufacturer charges for his goods; he does notgive them away; and the doctor receives pay for his prescription.
MR. ESCH: If a physician prescribed the amount which could beused without detriment, would it be dangerous to the manufacturer to use, that ora less amount?
DR. WILEY: I think so.
MR. ESCH: Provided you could be sure?
DR. WILEY: Yes; because the physician prescribes constantlyvery poisonous substances. A drug and a food are quite different things. The physicianprescribes after his training and after an examination of the patient. The manufacturerasks legal permission to use the same drug that the physician does in his practiceand to put it in the foods with certain restrictions, which, of course, would beproper if he is permitted at all. But I want to contrast the difference in the positionof the trained man who uses a drug and the untrained man who uses a drug. I thinkit is perfectly fair, Mr. Chairman, to call the attention of the committee to thatimportant distinction.
MR. MANN: There is no difference of opinion between you andDoctor Vaughan on that subject, as I understand his testimony; you both agreed.
DR. WILEY: We agreed in almost every particular. I indorse almostevery word he said to this committee, absolutely.
THE CHAIRMAN: Dr. Vaughan's statement, you will remember, wasmade after a manufacturer had testified that he put 6 ounces of benzoic acid in powderin a barrel of catsup and trusted to oscillations from the ordinary movement of thatas freight to distribute it.
DR. WILEY: Yes, Sir.
MR. CUSHMAN: As I understand your position, then, you agreewith Dr. Vaughan's statement on technical points, but disagree with his conclusions?
DR. WILEY: Yes; I don't think they are logical in those particularinstances. I think all of his statements and his facts are without question so faras his examinations have gone.
MR. BARTLETT: Do you agree with him that each one of us, ineating our daily food, consumes from 1 to 10 grains of benzoic acid? That is onestatement that he made.
MR. KENNEDY: He said that was formed in the human body.
MR. BARTLETT: Do you agree with him upon that?
DR. WILEY: I have never measured the amount of benzoic acidthat may be formed by metabolic activity. We surely do not eat ten grains a day inordinary foods, or even one. It is only in rare cases that you would eat one graina day.
MR. TOWNSEND: Where does it come from if his conclusion is correctthat it is in the system?
DR. WILEY: It is claimed by some physiologists that the benzolring that I showed you yesterday--the product of destructive metabolism--that smallquantities of the benzol radical might be formed in the system or unite with glycocoland form hippuric acid.
MR. TOWNSEND: And would be eliminated by the kidneys?
DR. WILEY: And would be eliminated by the kidneys; yes, sir.
Will Congress pass a law permitting physicians to prescribea quarter of 1 per cent benzoic acid, or 10 grains or 30 grains of salicylic acid,or any quantity of boric acid, or any quantity of strychnine or of arsenic in patentmedicines, without medical education and medical training and without studying thecharacter of the condition of the patient to which it is to be given? I really donot believe that any claim of that kind would meet with a single vote of this committeeor on the floor of the American Congress. And yet Dr. Vaughan, after having laiddown a principle of ethics, broad, comprehensive, and indestructible, immediatelyproceeds to claim for a manufacturer, without any technical knowledge of medicine,the right to do exactly the thing which he says no physician by law should be allowedto do. Dr. Vaughan was asked about the proper law in regard to the use of preservatives,and very promptly says:
That brings up a very interesting point. If you will permit me, I would like to say just a word about that. I do not know that I am prepared to answer the question just now. It seems to me that that ought to be settled by a commission of experts, as to what preservatives could be used and in what foods they might be used.
Now, Mr. Chairman, let me ask, if Dr. Vaughan, with all hisextensive experience, with all his work in pharmacology and physiology and chemistry,has not yet reached an opinion, where can you expect any commission or anybody elseto be able to reach one? And, in view of that fact, can Dr. Vaughan or any otherman logically come before your committee and ask to be allowed the use of a definiteamount of certain medicines of the highest value, of which Dr. Vaughan himself sayshe does not know what quantity can be used, and which can not be used by a physicianin any quantity without a license?
Then Dr. Vaughan goes immediately on and says, on the same page,that he "has an opinion," that he is "sure" that benzoic acidin the quantities in which it is used in catsup, :sweet pickles, ete.--1 part to1,200 or 2,000--does not do any harm. He immediately says: "I should be opposedto the use of formaldehyde in milk in any quantity, or the use of any other preservativesin milk." Why, may I ask? If it is harmless in catsup, is it harmful in milk?If it is harmful in milk, is it not harmful in catsup?
DR. VAUGHAN also says: "I have testified repeatedly againstthe use of sulphite of soda on hamburger steaks. I am thoroughly in sympathy withthe Hepburn bill." I desire the particular attention of the committee to thispart of the testimony. Dr. Vaughan has said that a physician should only prescribebenzoic acid after training and license. He then says that he himself, with all hisvast experience, has not reached any conclusion in the matter. He next says thathe believes that the quantity used in tomato catsup does no harm. Then he says heis opposed to its use in milk in any quantity. I should think a jury would be somewhatconfused by expert testimony of this kind. I believe, with Dr. Vaughan, that a physicianshould not be allowed to prescribe benzoic acid until he has shown the necessaryqualifications. I believe, with Dr. Vaughan, that no preservative of any kind shouldbe used in milk. I agree With him,--that sulphite of soda, should not be used onhamburger steaks--three points on which we agree. I agree with Dr. Vaughan that Ihave not yet reached any conclusion as to the minimum quantities of benzoic acidwhich are harmless. Four points, logical, sequential, and on which perfect agreementis certain. Just what there is in tomato catsup which should except it from the logicalsequence I beg some one to enlighten me.
It is impossible for me in any way to discover it. Dr. Vaughanstates that nobody but a bacteriologist can decide how much of a preservative mustbe used to preserve a food, and therefore objects to the results of the experimentsauthorized by Congress. I beg to state to the committee that Congress never authorizedthe Secretary of Agriculture to determine how much preservative was necessary topreserve foods. All it did was to authorize him to study the effect of preservatives,coloring matters, and other substances added to foods upon health and digestion.In so far as I can see, bacteriology has nothing in the world to do with it. It isa question of physiological chemistry and pharmacology only, and it has been answeredsolely by the methods of those sciences.
I will explain in full these methods when I speak of the effectof borax. Dr. Vaughan states that the experiments with borax did not prove that itwas injurious in small quantities, and when asked what he meant by small quantitieshe said, "One-half of 1 per cent." I suppose he means by that, in the foods.That is all he can mean. I will show you gentlemen that the amount of boric acidwhich we used and which produced most disturbing effects upon the health was farless than one-half of 1 per cent of the weight of the food used. Dr. Vaughan's statementin this respect is hardly the statement of an expert. It is his opinion of anotherexpert's findings, and he adduces no evidence on which to base his opinion.
I may say to you that the Secretary has never taken up the subjectof determining what preservatives shall be used in foods and in what quantities,as he is authorized to do by act of Conaress. When he does, he will, under the authorityof Congress, be able to call experts on these subjects who shall be able to helphim to a just decision. All the Secretary of Agriculture has done so far is to determinethe effect of preservatives, coloring matters, and added substances to foods uponhealth and digestion. These experiments have been conducted in the manner which Ishall soon relate to you.
No board of experts could come in and help another expert decidewhat his own experiment taught him. That would be quite an impossible thing to do.Dr. Vaughan would resent five men going into his laboratory and telling him whatthe result of one of his own experiments was. He, being a man of judgment and tactand knowledge, alone can decide what his own experiments have taught him, and thenwhen he submits the data on which his judgment is based the board of experts cancome in and criticize the data and reach another conclusion. The data on borax, whichwas used in the experiments which I will soon describe, are here before you. Everyfact in connection with that investigation is set forth, every analysis has its data,every event connected with the conduct of the experiment, which lasted nine monthson twelve young men, is set forth in detail. Dr. Vaughan did not attack a singlefact nor deny its accuracy in all this mass of material, and then, without doingthis, says:
Dr. Wiley has made a report on boric acid as to preservatives, and while I am a personal friend of Dr. Wiley's and appreciate him very highly and think greatly of him, his experiments have shown that boric acid in large amounts disturb digestion and interrupts good health, but they have not shown that boric acid in the small quantities which should be used as a preservative, if used at all, has any effect upon the animal body.
Now, Mr. Chairman,. I do not see how Dr. Vaughan, after readingmy report, could make a statement like that. He certainly did not read it carefully.I therefore take this opportunity to lay before this committee at this opportunemoment a synopsis of the results of the work which has been accomplished under authorityof Congress in feeding borax and boric acid to. young men in splendid health andto place before you the proof of the deletrious effects which even small quantities--farless than one-half of 1 per cent-produce. I will supplement this also by a similarstatement from the chemists and physiologists of the imperial board of health atBerlin, which fully confirms in every particular every conclusion reached by my ownexperiments, and candidly ask the consideration of this committee of these two reports.
Now, that shows how close our agreement is, as I have alreadystated to the committee, and I would like to repeat it here: That if benzoic acidis harmful in milk, and Dr. Vaughan admits it, in any proportion, there is no logicalreason that I can see why it is not harmful in any other food. I admit the argument,however, that it may be placed there and produce a benefit. Then we could say thatit was placed there to correct some other and a greater evil, and on that groundalone would I advocate the use of preservatives in food, and not that they are harmless.I do not see, gentlemen, how anybody can ever admit the use of preservatives in foodon such testimony as Dr. Vaughan has given, and I will rest it right on his words,on the ground that it is harmless. But you could very justly, as I said yesterday,admit it on the ground that it is less of two evils. That is the point that I wantedto insist upon.
MR. TOWNSEND: Have you changed your mind on that subject inthe last few years?
DR. WILEY: Yes, sir; very materially. I formerly believed thatcertain preservatives could be used, as Dr. Vaughan believes now, simply by havingits presence mentioned on the label. I was strongly convinced of the truth of thatproposition. I have, before committees in Congress and in public addresses, statedthose sentiments. I was converted by my own investigations, Mr. Chairman, and bynobody else's in this matter. My former opinion was based upon the weight of experttestimony. I read the opinions of men that I respected, and the weight of that opinionwas in favor of the position which I have just stated. I inclined to that view. AndI will state that Dr. Vaughan's association with me was one of the things that ledme largely to adopt that view.
LIEBREICH JOINS VAUGHAN
When I went to my office yesterday one of the young men said:"Have you seen this criticism on your work which has just come out in a Germanmagazine in January?" As I have been pretty busy in the last few weeks, I hadnot read the magazine. It is an adverse criticism of this report of mine on borax.I am having it translated and typewritten, and I am going to put it in the evidenceso that you can read it. Professor Liebreich I know very well. He is a personal friendof mine, a very eminent gentleman, and it is fair to say that he is employed by theborax syndicate; but I don't think -that impugns his testimony at all, and I accepthis criticism as if he had been employed by the German Government. One of those isthe original report of the imperial board of health and the other the reply to acriticism made by this same Professor Liebreich. And to show how experts disagree,Professor Liebreich came to this country last year to testify in some cases in Pennsylvaniaon behalf of borax and sulphite of soda, which Professor Vaughan condemns--he wouldnot allow it used in any quantity.
Professor Liebreich appeared before the court in Philadelphiain the case where the hamburger-steak people who had been treating hamburger steakwith sulphite of soda were made defendants; and he testified that in his opinionalmost any quantity of sulphite of soda could be used with impunity in meat; andthe court asked him, "Professor Liebreich, do you use it in your meats at yourhome I" And he said: "No; I do not." "Would you use it if youwanted to?" was asked; and he replied, "I don't want to," and hiswhole testimony fell just on that. I was told--I don't know just how true it was-thathe received $4,000 for coming over here. One of our young men, who was not nearlyso famous as Professor Liebreich, went over to Philadelphia and testified beforethe same court, and on his testimony the judge and jury found against the testimonyof Professor Liebreich, whose criticism of my report I will submit as soon as itis ready. That shows that Liebreich and Vaughan agree on borax. Vaughan and Wileyagree on sulphite, and I differ from both of them on the borax question, and theydiffer from each other on the sulphite.
That shows the conflict in opinions which you gentlemen arecalled upon to consider. It is something confusing, but of course you have to relyupon the character of the data after all. If you find that the data which I presentare not reliable, have not been obtained in a proper way, my opinion is worth verylittle, and, as Professor Liebreich says, "I will accept the data as they are,and then I will draw an opinion which is entirely different," just what I toldyou yesterday could be done.
MR. RYAN: Do you believe a Congressionaf committee, none ofwhom are chemists, are competent to judge between those opinions of eminent chemistswho have formed those opinions after having analyzed the food?
DR. WILEY: I think they are absolutely competent, just as ajury would be upon the same thing in the weighing of evidence.
You see the evidence as the weigher of evidence, and not asexperts. You see it as a jury. I think this committee is absolutely competent todecide a question of that kind on the evidence submitted here.
MR. BARTLETT: We have a good many bills before us, and thereis where this question must come before the court and the jury.
DR. WILEY: That is true so far as the Hepburn bill is concernedsomebody must render an opinion before you can bring an indictment, and then thatopinion is subject to review of the court. That is the plain principle of the law,and surely you would never try to bind the court by any statements or anything elsewhich any expert might set up.
MR. BARTLETT: You will find one court and a jury deciding thata certain thing ought to be put in, and another that it ought not.
DR. WILEY: It should be carried up to the highest court.
MR. BARTLETT: In one locality a jury and a judge, with men ontrial for not permitting a certain statement, might acquit one man and convict another.
DR. WILEY: Exactly, and you will find when I submit the evidencefrom the English courts that that very thing happens all the time. You must leaveit to the court. Every man can have his opinion, but that must not bind the court;an expert's opinion never can.
MR. ESCH: I noticed that Rost came to the conclusion that theuse of borax or boracic acid resulted in almost every case in a reduction of weight.Did you find that true in your experiments?
DR. WILEY: Yes, sir; you will find that in this chart. We neverfound an exception.
MR. MANN: Before you pass from the subject of borax, I wouldlike to have your statement in reference to the use of borax under the provisionof the bill, which in the Hepburn bill was removed by maceration.
DR. WILEY: I heartily approve of that provision in regard topreservatives of food products intended for export. I have a little article thatI am going to submit on that, Mr. Mann, in better form. There is a chart here (inBulletin 84) showing by the position of the lines, the loss of weight which theseyoung men suffered. I don't think it is a very serious matter if a man loses a coupleof pounds in weight.
MR. TOWNSEND: You found some of them were gaining weight, asI understood you, and you had to reduce their food.
DR. WILEY: Our foods were constant as long as they could eat.Until they became ill their food was never diminished throughout the preservativeperiod.
MR. TOWNSEND: Didn't you state that you had to watch them closelyto see if they were gaining?
DR. WILEY: That was before we began to establish the equilibrium;that was in the fore period.
Now, I have a transcript there which I think will prove. veryhelpful to you gentlemen. You have heard a great deal about the finding of the Englishdepartmental committee. I want simply to quote the evidence of Professor W. D. Halliburton,who is the most distinguished physiologist of the English-speaking people. ProfessorVaughan would be very glad to tell you the same thing. He came over here last yearand gave a series of lectures. His work is a textbook on chemical physiology andpathology. I want to read you just one or two things, which you might not read, thatI have extracted from his testimony.
The English committee forbade the use of preservatives in certainfood products, and recommended that a limited quantity, which they mentioned, shouldbe permitted in other food products. While that has never been made a law by actof Parliament, the courts are all guiding their decisions on the report of this committee.For instance, if they do not find any more than one-half of 1 per cent of borax,they do not convict a defendant. If they find less than 1 grain of salicylic acidto the pound, they do not convict a defendant. But they convict any defendant whoputs preservatives in milk of any kind. The evidence of Professor W. D. Halliburtonis as follows--that part which I wish to read--and it can be verified if anybodywishes to.
I would say at the outset that the kind of evidence that I have to offer is not very largely clinical. The amount of medical practice which I have seen is limited. Very soon after my student days, I took to physiological work, and I have remained at that more or less ever since, so that the actual observations that I have to make are in the nature of physiological experiments, and deal principally with the two chief substances that you have under investigation, as I understand--compounds of boron and formaldehyde. On general principles one would object to the continuous use of antiseptics. The substance which would destroy the life of micro-organisms could not be expected to be beneficial to the life of a higher organism; it would be largely a matter of dose. I mean to say the same dose that would kill a bacterium would not necessarily kill a man, but still it would be hostile to the protoplasmic actions that constitute the life even of a high animal like man.
Q. 7541 (p. 264). Then, as to boric acid, you have made extensive experiments?--A. With borax and borates I have made a fair number of experiments. In the introduction I allude to what is known as "borism." The eruption occurs on the skin of certain individuals as the result of the use of either boric acid or borax. There have been other cases recorded--although here again I can not speak personally--in which dyspeptic troubles have arisen. There have been a fair number of experiments performed upon animals.
Q. 7544. Boric acid is the commoner preservative, is it not?--A. I am not so sure. I think very largely a mixture is used that is called "glacialin"--a mixture of boric acid and borax. In animals the chief advantage, if one may put it so, of the poison is that it is not cumulative; it does not accumulate in the body, but it is rapidly eliminated by the urine.
Now, I put it to the committee this way: Here is an opinionof a man whose fame is far greater even than that of Dr. Vaughan. I believe thatevery person acquainted with medical and physiological literature in the United Stateswill say that Professor Halliburton is the greatest living exponent of physiologicalchemistry in English-speaking countries. Could there be a more sweeping indictmentbrought against these preservatives than Professor Halliburton has stated? He saysof borax and boric acid that the chief advantage of these poisonous bodies is thatthey are rapidly eliminated from the system, and he further states that the continualpassage of these foreign bodies through the cells of the kidneys, to put it mildly,as he does, is not likely to do them any good. And yet Professor Vaughan advisesthis committee to permit the use of boric acid in foods in quantities not to exceedone-half of 1 per cent.
Professor Halliburton says further, in answer to question 7572:" May we take it, then, that in your view you are absolutely opposed to theuse of formalin?--Yes.
Q. 7573. And with regard to the other preservatives, if they were labeled that would meet your objection; is that your position generally?--A. No; I feel that the ideal condition of things would be to prohibit them all.
Q. 7574. All preservatives?--A. All preservatives.
Q. 7575. Even salt?--A. No; I am not speaking of substances which are normal constituents of the body.
Q. 7576. Would you prohibit nitrate of potash, too?
A. One knows, even from smoking cigarettes, that nitrate of potash is not absolutely harmless.
So I say to our manufacturers: "Take the American peopleinto your confidence and your business will be placed upon a foundation from whichit can not be shaken nor removed." I say, as a plain business proposition, thatthe men who put preservatives in foods had better stop it for their good and forthe good of their business; and they will. And in five years from now (mark my words,Mr. Chairman), bill or no bill, we will not have to come here to argue about thismatter, because there will be nothing to argue about--because this ethical principle,aside from any injury to health or anything of that kind, is one which appeals, notonly to the people who consume, but to the people who make the goods which they eat.With these remarks, I submit the case to your judgment, saying that whatever youraction is I shall heartily support, with what little influence I have, any measurewhich you bring forth, to have it enacted into law. [Applause.]
Congress enacted a law conferring plenary poweron the Secretary of Agriculture to exclude adulterated and misbranded foreign articlesfrom entry several years ago. Its terms are as follows:
The Secretary of Agriculture, whenever he has reason to believe that such articles are being imported from foreign countries which are dangerous to the health of the people of the United States, or which shall be falsely labeled or branded either as to their contents or as to the place of their manufacture or production, shall make a request upon the Secretary of the Treasury for samples from original packages of such articles for inspection and analysis, and the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to open such original packages and deliver specimens to the Secretary of Agriculture for the purpose mentioned, giving notice to the owner or consignee of such articles, who may be present and have the right to introduce testimony; and the Secretary of the Treasury shall refuse delivery to the consignee of any such goods which the Secretary of Agriculture reports to him have been inspected and analyzed and found to be dangerous to health or falsely labeled or branded, either as to their contents or as to the place of their manufacture or production or which are forbidden entry or to be sold, or are restricted in sale in the countries in which they are made or from which they are exported.
DR. WILEY: I will say that the Germans no longer attempt tosend boraxed sausages to this country. They were making them and sending them tothis country when they were not permitted in their own country; but our law saysthat anything that is forbidden in any country can not be sent from that countryhere, and so we simply excluded those goods because they were excluded in Germany;not on account of any decision respecting their health.
The same way with salicylic acid. You can not import anythinginto this country from Germany or France that contains salicylic acid because thatis forbidden in those countries but you can from England.
MR. TOWNSEND: We do not propose to be as liberal as they are.We forbid their manufacturing and selling it here but allow them to sell it abroad.
MR. MANN: Is the amount of borax in these duck eggs of sucha percentage as to be, without question, injurious to health?
DR. WILEY: If consumed as food, absolutely without question;and we are not required, I think, to say that we will follow a man and see whetherhe tells the truth or not as to what he is going to do with it. I do not think thatthis firm in this case would have done anything but what they said,. because theyare most reputable and honorable men; but suppose some other person had done it?
MR. MANN: If this provision in the Hepburn bill had been inthe law, you would have been required to take some action of that sort, I suppose?
DR. WILEY: Yes; and I hope the committee will read the paragraphwhere I have spoken about that. I think it is a very unfortunate thing that we arerequired to go into a man's kitchen and supervise his cooking, and I think that whenyou come to look into that thing you will find it would be the one unconstitutionalthing in it, because it is a pure police regulation, which is solely committed tothe States.
MR. TOWNSEND: In what bill is that?
DR. WILEY: The Hepburn bill--the clause which says that thething must be judged when it is fit for consumption. Now, the preparation of a foodfor consumption is certainly under the supervision of the police powers of the States,and it is not in the unbroken packages which the law specifies as the only goodsto which this law shall apply.
MR. MANN: The provision of the Hepburn bill is not quite that,Doctor.
DR. WILEY: But I want to say to you, gentlemen, that I am notfrightened about that clause of the bill at all. That is just a little principleof ethics and constitutionality. Not being much of a constitutional lawyer I onlysuggest it; but I would like to have my distinguished friend here [Mr. Bartlett]look into that point of it particularly.
MR. ESCH: Is saltpeter still used as a preservative anywhere,Doctor?
DR. WILEY: I do not think saltpeter was ever used as a preservative.It was used to preserve color, but not to preserve food.
MR. MANN: Is it injurious?
DR. WILEY: I think saltpeter is a very injurious substance.It acts specifically on the kidneys very injuriously, and Professor Halliburton,whom I quoted this morning, agrees perfectly with that statement.
MR. ESCH: Corned beef is colored with the use of saltpeter,is it not?
DR. WILEY: That is just the same principle again. I would notbe afraid to eat a piece of corned beef, because the amount of injury would be immeasurablysmall. Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that it should not be used in cornedbeef. I would be sorry to see it left out. But if you put it on the principle ofharmlessness, it could not go in. And that reminds me that I did not show you thething which is most indicative of my argument. I am glad you mentioned that justnow. I want that chart that was made this morning. A little graphic representationof an argument sometimes helps a great deal.
The suggestion has been repeatedly made here that because foodwas injurious we should legislate against it. Now, I have drawn here my argumentin a graphic form. This is a graphic chart showing the comparative influence of foodsand preservatives. Of course we have to assume the data on which this chart is constructed.You will understand that.
We will suppose that a normal dose of a drug in a state of healthis nothing. We do not need it at all. Now, imagine that the lethal dose of a drug--thatis, the dose that will kill--is 100; and then we go to work and measure at threepoints--at 75, at 50, and at 25. There are points at which we can measure. We cannot measure up toward the right there, because the line almost coincides with thebasic line, and the deviation is so slight that no method of measurement that weknow of could distinguish them.
Then, if we use a little drug I can measure it here. I can measureit again here [indicating], and I can measure it again here [indicating]. Now fromthose three points I can construct a curve and calculate the lethal dose, which wewill assume to be 100. That much drug would kill; no drug would not hurt at all.
The relative injury of a drug can be calculated mathematicallyfrom a curve constructed like that on experimental data, and I could tell you mathematically,by applying the calculus there, just what the hurtful value of that drug would beat an infinitely small distance from zero. You have doubtless, an of you, studiedcalculus, and you know how you can integrate a vanishing function. I used to knowa good deal about calculus myself, and I could by integral calculus tell you theinjurious power of a drug at an infinitely small distance from zero--that is, aninfinitely small dose.
Now, see what a contrast there is between a food and a drug.
The lethal dose of a food is none at all. What kills you? Youare starved to death. The normal dose is what you eat normally, 100. I starve a man,and I measure the injury which he receives at different points. I can mathematicallyplat the point where he will die.
That one chart shows to this committee in a graphic form, betterthan any argument could, the position of a drug in a food as compared with the fooditself. They are diametrically opposite. The lethal dose of one is the normal doseof the other, and vice versa. Therefore the argument de minimis as far asharmlessness is concerned is a wholly illogical and unmathematical argument, andcan be demonstrated by calculus to be so.
When the committee went into executive sessionto put this bill into its final shape, I was asked to sit with them. This is as nearto being a member of Congress as I ever reached.
Thus ended the struggle for legislation controllinginterstate commerce in foods and drugs. It had been going on nearly a quarter ofa century. In the beginning the efforts were feeble and attracted very little attention.As the work continued more and more interest was taken in the problem. Many of thestate authorities were keenly alive to the importance of national legislation. Theyfelt that without some rallying point their own efforts in individual states wouldbe lacking in completeness. The state officials who were most active in this crusadewere Ladd of North Dakota, Sheppard of South Dakota, Emery of Wisconsin, Bird ofMichigan, Abbott of Texas, Frear of Pennsylvania, Barnard of Indiana, Hortvet ofMinnesota, Allen of Kentucky, and Allen of North Carolina. Many other food officialswere interested and helpful, but these were the outstanding members of the statefood commissioners who took the most active part in the matter. All the great organizedbodies interested in the health of the people, namely, the American Medical Association,the American Public Health Association, together with the Patrons of Husbandry, andthe Federated Labor organizations of the country were actively engaged in promotingthis measure. Perhaps the greatest and most forceful were the Federated Women's Clubsof America and the Consumers League, They took up the program with enthusiasm andgreat vigor. Two of the leaders of this movement were Mrs. Walter McNab Miller, representingthe Federated Women's Clubs, and Miss Alice Lakey, representing the Consumers League.Their services were extremely valuable.
EDWARD FREMONT LADD
Militant Food Administrator of North Dakota, at Denver Convention
MRS. WALTER McNAB MILLER
Representing Federated Women's Clubs
MISS ALICE LAKEY
Representing the Consumers' League
Finally the movement received the approval ofPresident Roosevelt in a one-line sentence in his message to Congress at the openingof the fifty-ninth Congress in December, 1905. The stage was set for action. Theforce of the movement had passed beyond all restraining influences. The oppositionof the vested interests had lost all momentum. Victory was in the air. People talkedabout the food bill on the streets, discussed it in clubs, passed resolutions infavor of it in their meetings. It was evident the day of success so long looked forand so eagerly awaited was at hand. It remained only for the Congress of the UnitedStates to compose the differences between the Senate and the House bills and putthe final touches on legislation. It was a foregone conclusion that a measure sopopular and so universally acclaimed would receive without hesitation the approvalof the President.
The bill passed the Senate February 21, 1906,yeas 63, nays 4. The House passed a similar bill June 23, 1906, yeas 241, nays 17.The conferees agreed soon thereafter and President Roosevelt signed the bill June30, 1906.