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Page. Review of the evidence taken by the Senate Committee on Manufactures.. 1 Topical digest of evidence....

21 Digest of additional statements concerning baking powders ..

117 Digest of the laws of the United States and the several States and Territories relating to adulterated and unwholesome food




The Senate Committee on Manufactures was authorized by the Fifty-fifth Congress to investigate and ascertain what manufacturers adulterate foods and drinks, and which, if any, of such products are fraudulent. In accordance with this authorization, the committee held numerous sessions in Washington, Chicago, and New York between March, 1899, and February, 1900, inclusive, and heard the testimony of a large number of witnesses, including both professional chemists and physicians who had analyzed food products or observed their physiological effects, and persons practically engaged in the manufacture and sale of foods. Written statements were also received from a number of authorities who were not present in person. Dr. H. W. Wiley, Chief Chernist of the United States Department of Agriculture, besides stating the results of some of his own investigations, met with the committee in some of its sessions and took part in the questioning of other witnesses. The testimony taken by the committee makes a printed pamphlet of more than 600 pages. (Senate Report No. 516, Fifty-sixth Congress, first session.) Topical digests of this testimony and of certain additional statements afterwards submitted to the Senate in reply to some of the testimony concerning baking powder, together with a digest of the pure food laws of the various States, have been prepared in pursuance of Senate resolutions passed December 6, 1900, and January 6, 1901. The digests of testimony, etc., are by Charles E. Edgerton and Max West; that of the pure food laws is by E. Dana Durand.

EXTENT OF ADULTERATION. There seems to be a general agreement that foods of American origin have improved in purity during recent years, except in certain particulars. Two witnesses call attention to the lack of pure American food products in former years and the consequent general use of foreign goods, but agree that American manufacturers are now producing even better goods than can be imported. Two explanations are given for the improvement-an advance in national character and the discovery that honesty is the best policy. It is sugested that more money is to be made out of pure foods honestly labeled than out of adulterated products.'

Dr. Wiley has stated that probably 95 per cent of all food products have been adulterated at some time in some country; but he estimates that scarcely 5 per cent of the food products bought at random, other than spices and ground coffee, would now be found to be adulterated. Moreover, the adulteration which is injurious to health is much less extensive than that which is merely more fraudulent.? Other witnesses who have analyzed foods have found very little injurious or poisonous adulteration. On the other hand, it is said to be impossible to distinguish injurious adulterations from those which are merely frauds, food which is wholesome for one man being unwholesome for another. 4

Lead poisoning.Attention is called to the danger of getting soluble salts of lead and tin from the accidental dropping of solder into canned vegetables and from the use of a large proportion of lead in the tin of which the cans are made. The excess of lead causes what is known as painters' colic.5

Another source of lead poisoning is the use of lead ir. siphons used for mineral waters.


A kind of terra alba known as mineraline, produced in a North Carolina factory, is said to have been used in an adulteration of flour. It is absolutely insoluble in the stomach, and serves as a mechanical impediment, loading up the stomach with a dead weight. Sulphate of lime or gypsum, ground to a white powder, has also been used as an adulterant of flour.?

It is not denied that before the passage of the mixed-four law it was a common practice to adulterate flour with corn starch, corn flour, and, in some cases, with mineral substances; but the law is thought to have been effective in stopping nearly all the mixing of flour except in the case of such preparations as pancake flour, which are expected to be mixed.8

The increased confidence in American flour abroad resulting from the passage of the mixed-flour law is shown to have produced a decided increase in the exports of that commodity, and the law is generally considered satisfactory, minor amendments only being suggested.10


The consideration of the relative merits of baking powder made with cream of tartar and that containing alum gives rise to a number of unsettled questions. Two witnesses claim that the popular prejudice against alum baking powder is kept alive by advertising or reading matter paid for by the manufacturers of cream of tartar baking powder, elsewhere referred to as the baking-powder trust." Great stress is laid upon the relative cheapness of alum baking powder; 12 but, on the other hand, it is shown that it is much inferior in leavening power to that made with cream of tartar,13 and also that while it is sold at wholesale at very

1 Hanney, pp. 63, 64; Furbay, pp. 60, 62, 63,
2 Wiley, pp. 41, 585.
3 Frear, p. 481; Jenkins, p. 449.
4 Vaughan, p. 202; Prescott, pp. 197, 198.
6 Wiley, p. 42.
• Edwards, p. 238.
7 Wiley, pp. 31, 32.
& Gallagher, pp. 3,4,5,135, 136; Eckert, pp. 26, 27, 28; Wiley, p. 21.
Gallagher, pp. 7-11, 136; Eckert, p. 27.
10 Gallagher, pp. 2,3; Eckert, p. 27; Furbay, p. 62.
11 Rew, pp. 87-89; Austen, pp. 531, 532; see also Delafontaine, n. 230
19 Austen, pp. 542, 513.
13 Weber, p. 605; Withers, p. 617; McMurtrie, p. 600.


low prices it frequently reaches the consumers at prices as high as those of creamof-tartar baking powders.'

Cream of tartar as used in bread making is generally considered uninjurious or even beneficial, while the charge is brought against alum that aluminum compounds do not occur in either the vegetable or the animal matters which form the natural foods of man.

Cream of tartar.—There is practically no denial of the wholesomeness of creamof-tartar baking powder, though one or two witnesses mention that it would be poisonous or injurious in very large doses," and Professor Munroe considers bakingpowder bread in general less wholesome than that made by the process of fermentation. The chief question concerning cream of tartar is as to its purity. The consulting chemist for three of the principal baking-powder companies says the material used by those companies does not vary appreciably from a purity of 100 per cent;but other chemists have found the purity of commercial cream of tartar to vary greatly, and some samples bought for cream of tartar to contain no cream of tartar at all.?

Alum in baking powder.—There are several questions concerning alum baking powder as to which great difference of opinion exists. The more important of these questions are (1) whether the alum is completely decomposed in the baking of bread, as it is intended to be, or whether some portion of it remains in the bread as alum; (2) whether the residuum is soluble in the digestive juices, and (3) whether it is injurious in the quantities in which it occurs in bread.

The residuum left in the bread by alum baking powder consists of hydrate of aluminum and sulphate of sodium, and, in the case of an alum and phosphate powder, phosphates of calcium and sodium. It is claimed on behalf of the alum baking powders that no alum can be left in the food; that the use of too much alum in baking powder would increase the expense, and is sure to be avoided for commercial reasons. On the other hand, it is believed by several authorities that alum may sometimes occur in the bread, and one witness says there are good authorities who believe that the decomposition of the alum is never complete, and that some unchanged alum always remains in the bread.10

One chemist, who is an officer of a baking-powder company, denies that aluminum hydrate is soluble in the digestive juices, on the authority of an English analyst whose conclusion was based upon experiments on living animals." Two authorities consider the solubility of aluminum hydrate doubtful,i2 and several others regard its solubility as established by experiments or otherwise. 18

Two manufacturers and three apparently disinterested chemists consider the use of alum baking powder harmless, and one of the chemists even goes so far as to say that it is really the most perfect baking powder, because its residuum is smaller than that of any other, and because it generates gas only very slowly before it is heated, enabling the baker to do his kneading more thoroughly and thus produce a more wholesome bread than when it is necessary to hurry the dough into the oven.1: Several other authorities consider the wholesomeness of

1 Mitchell, p. 107. 2 Prescott, p. 200; Vaughan, p. 206. 3 Weber, p. 605; McMurtrie, p. 599; Munroe, p. 608. 4 Delafontaine, p. 232. 6 P. 608. 6 McMurtrie, p.594. 7 Wiley, p. 584; Mitchell, p. 117; Frear, p. 529. * Rew, pp. 87-89; Austen, pp. 532, 533. 'Mallet, pp. 551, 552,559; Mott, 635; Crampton, 623; Mitchell, 108; Vaughan, 205; Woodward, 610. 10 McMurtrie, p. 596. 11 Rew, pp. 88, 104. 12 Mew, p. 612; Mott, p. 635.

13 Prescott, pp. 196, 197; Mitchell, p. 108; Weber, p. 606; McMurtrie, pp. 696-598; Munroe, p. 638; Fairhurst, p. 620; Crampton, p. 624.

14 Rew, pp. 87-89; Murray, p. 67; Austen, pp. 535, 541; Delafontaine, p. 230; Petraens, pp. 292, 293.



alum baking powder still in doubt, and three of these gentlemen remark that the burden of proof should be upon those who favor its use.

There is a decided preponderance of evidence to the effect that alum baking powder is positively harmful. It is charged with producing a great variety of injurious effects, especially in the digestive tract. It is believed by some of the expert witnesses that its continued use is likely to produce chronic indigestion; and one specialist in diseases of the alimentary tract has reached the conclusion that the great majority of digestive troubles may be traced to white bread and quick hot breads made with baking powder. The claim that alum baking powder makes better bread than the other kinds is offset by the statement that bread made with it is likely to be inferior, the action of the alum on the bicarbonate of soda being irregular and uncertain. Bread made with alum baking powder is also said to have an unpleasant taste, due to the presence of sodium sulphate. A German authority is quoted to the effect that intense nervous disturbance may ultimately result from the absorption of aluminum compounds, the poisonous action of which is very slow. Alum is characterized as an insidious cumulative poison.

Proposed legislation.—Two legislative solutions of the baking-powder problem are proposed: (1) That manufacturers be required to state the composition of the powder on their labels, and (2) that the use of alum be prohibited. There seems to be no difference of opinion as to the desirability of the first measure, if the use of alum is to be permitted at all; even the advocates of alum baking powder assent to the proposed requirement, though they suggest that instead of giving the formula it would be better to state the substances left in the food, or else that the manufacturer should have the privilege of affirming on the label the harmlessness of the materials used. One chemist advises that all baking powders be labeled as to the minimum percentage of gas they are calculated to evolve. A number of witnesses, however, go so far as to recommend the absolute prohibition of the use of alum in baking powder.4

Use of alum for whitening bread.-Several witnesses refer to the use of alum by bakers for the purpose of whitening bread and improving its appearance, and wide differences of opinion are expressed as to the harmfulness of this practice. One chemist says the real harm consists in using wormy or inferior flour, the quantity of alum used being too small to do any harm."

Use of alum in the filtration of water.-One of the advocates of alum baking powder speaks of the use of alum on a large scale in the filtration of water in many cities. Another authority, however, regards this use of alun as of doubtful wisdom, and recommends the substitution of salts of iron. He says further that the alum is intended to be precipitated, but that even if the whole amount remained in the water it would be only in minute quantities as compared with the amount used in alum baking powders. Two witnesses call attention to the prohibition of the use of alum in England, France, and Germany.8

1 De Schweinitz, p. 614; Munroe, pp, 608, 609; Mew, pp. 612, 613; Woodward, pp. 610, 611; Hallberg, p. 81; Crampton, p. 624.

2 Wiley, pp. 46, 588; Fairhurst, p. 620; Johnston, pp. 225, 226; Wise, p. 627; Sternberg, p. 607; Kerr, P. 605; Fleming, p. 604; Johnson, p. 615; Van Reypen, p. 615; Wyman, p. 616; Cornwall, p. 618; Appleton, p. 619; Tucker, p. 618; Price, p. 619; Mallet, pp. 562,563,564,565, 566, 624; Mott, pp. 630-636; Freeman, pp. 619, 620; Stringfield, pp. 548, 549; Cuthbert, pp. 609, 610; Thurber, p. 581; McMurtrie, pp. 597, 598, 601; Vaughan, pp. 202, 205, 206: Weber, p. 606.

3 Wiley, p. 47; Mitchell, pp. 107, 109; Prescott, pp. 196, 197; Rew, p. 88; Delafontaine, pp. 230, 231; Eaton,


p. 236.

4 Prescott, p. 625; Freeman, p. 620; Johnston, p. 626; Wise, p. 627; Fairhurst, p. 620; Kerr, p. 605; Apple-
ton, p. 619.

6 Wiley, p. 46; Stringfield, p. 549; Crampton, pp. 622, 623; Petraens, p. 292.
6 Austen, pp. 533, 534.
7 Mallet, p. 655.
8 McMurtrie, p. 600; Crampton, p. 622.


A number of gentlemen more or less intimately associated with the oleomargarine industry describe the mthods of manufacture, and assert that only pure materials are used and that all the processes are cleanly.' Their testimony as to the wholesomeness and nutritive value of oleomargarine is confirmed by a number of disinterested witnesses."

One chemist, who does not think the best butterine equal to the best butter, says that there are grades of butter which are inferior to good or average butterine;3 and this impression is confirmed by reading some of the descriptions given of the processes of renovating rancid and inferior butter.4

Fraudulent sale.—The principal charge brought against oleomargarine is that it is sold fraudulently for butter. On the other hand, both dealers and manufacturers of oleomargarine give testimony tending to show that the product is sold for what it is, that it is advertised widely, and that purchasers, even when they ask for butter, know whether they are getting butter or oleomargarine from the difference in price. One witness, however, makes the point that while keepers of boarding houses and restaurants know what they are buying, their boarders do not know what they are getting on the table.?

Imitative coloring.The use of coloring matter in butter and oleomargarine is a vexed question. It appears that it is now a nearly universal practice to color genuine butter during the winter months. This is said to be done for the sake of uniformity and to make the product pleasing to the eye. It is claimed on behalf of the butter interests that a distinction should be made between this coloring of butter and the coloring of another substance, such as oleomargarine, in imitation of butter. On the other hand, some of the oleomargarine manufacturers assert that their product is not colored to imitate butter, but for the same reason that butter is colored. One witness even goes so far as to say that since the advent of butterine the creamery men have found it necessary to imitate it by coloring their butter. 10

The proposal to prohibit the coloring of oleomargarine in imitation of butter finds some support among food experts," but is naturally enough objected to by those who are interested in the oleomargarine industry,' one of whom says that a law prohibiting the use of coloring matter in either butter or oleomargarine would hurt the butter industry more than the oleomargarine industry.13 Several witnesses believe that oleomargarine could not be sold unless it were colored in imitation of butter. 14

The nature of the coloring matter used is another question concerning which there are different opinions. It is charged that the use of vegetable colors has been largely superseded by aniline dyes, 15 but this is denied. 16

1 Sterne, pp. 221–228, 341; Miller, pp. 322–324; Pirrung, pp. 313-315; Dadie, pp. 325, 326; Jelke, pp. 332, 333; Potter, pp. 335, 337.

2 Wiley, pp. 14, 16; Delafontaine, p. 231; Mallet, p. 556; Hobbs, p. 496; Miller, pp. 348–350.
3 Delafontaine, p. 231.
4 Sterne, pp. 221, 226, 227; Duff, p. 498.
6 Frear, p. 329; Hobbs, pp. 495, 496; Knight, pp. 139–141, 146–149.

6 Cliff, pp. 154, 155; Pollak, p. 152; Broadwell, pp. 158-166; Somes, pp. 151, 152; Sterne, pp. 225 226, Pirrung, pp. 319, 320, 338; Dadie, pp. 326-328; Potter, p. 336; Thompson, p. 338; Miller, p. 324; Jelke, p. 333; Sterne, p. 342.

7 Adams, p. 208. See also Mitchell, p. 109.
8 Knight, pp. 141-143; Pirrung, p. 317.
'Sterne, pp. 223, 224; Miller, p. 324.
10 Miller, p. 324.
11 Knight, pp. 110, 127.
12 Pirrung, p. 318; Sterne, p. 224.
18 Sterne, p. 224.
14 Knight, pp. 139, 141; Adams, p. 208; Broadwell, 166.
15 Delafontaine, p. 229; Vaughan, p. 203.
16 Sterne, p. 223; Pirrung, p. 315.

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