Although there are contradictory reports in regard to the tinned meat scandal in America, there is not the least doubt that an appalling condition of things prevails, and to the ordinary person who knows little or nothing of the extent to which food adulteration and other such malpractices exist in this country as well as elsewhere, such revelations as those which have recently been made by the daily press must come as a shock. To those whose duty it is to acquaint themselves with the nature and quality of the food supply of the people, the revelations are not so startling. The layman would hardly believe that the cases of obscure poisoning which repeatedly occur, sometimes resulting in death, and sometimes producing more or less severe attacks of illness, are largely due to the use of bad tinned foods. According to various reports from reliable sources, some of the practices in vogue at the Chicago packing houses are too disgusting to be given publicity to, but the malpractices which have been revealed in connection with the manufacture of tinned meat products, such as the use of diseased carcases, filthy offal and sweepings, putrid and decomposed meat artificially coloured and preserved with boric acid or some other chemical preservative, of potted ham made from mouldy flesh, of sausages made from the sweepings of the packing houses where it is the habit of the employees to expectorate freely on the floor, will tend to make people refuse to purchase any kind of tinned food, and unfortunately the manufacturer of good and wholesome products is sure to suffer. As might have been anticipated, denials as to the allegations made have been put forward and circulated, no doubt at the instance of persons more or less interested in the maintenance of the practices referred to. It has been alleged that protection is afforded to the consumer by certain labels, which read, “Quality Guaranteed, Government Inspected,” but it appears from recent official reports that this statement in reality means nothing at all, and affords no guarantee whatever—which is precisely what we should have expected. The absurdity and criminality of permitting the admixture of chemical preservatives with articles of food are well illustrated by these exposures, and we have more justification than ever in asking that our own Government authorities will make up their minds to take the action which has so long and so forcibly been urged upon them with respect to this form of adulteration.
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