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By E. G. LOVE, Ph. D.

NEW YORK, December 31, 1881.

Chairman Sanitary Committee State Board of Health:

SIR-I have the honor to submit the following report on the group of foods assigned to me for examination. It includes the cereals and their products, flour, bread, baking powder, etc. I have examined in all 283 samples, of which thirty-seven only were adulterated.

Very respectfully,
E. G. LOVE, PH. D.

In the following report I have endeavored to present, in as concise a manner as possible, the results of my examination of the samples submitted to me. These examinations, having for their specified object the collecting of information concerning the extent to which food and drug adulteration is practiced in this State, and moreover as the time allowed for the investigation was necessarily limited, those articles of food of this group were first examined which were considered most likely to be adulterated, and the many interesting questions which presented themselves during the work were made of secondary importance. For this reason the subject of "Infant Foods" is not considered in the following pages. Previous examinations had proved to my own satisfaction that they were not subject to adulteration, and the question of their dietetic value, while of great importance, was considered somewhat foreign to the present investigation. I should have included them, however, had there been sufficient time.

As to methods of examination, the microscope was mainly depended upon for the detection of foreign matter of a purely vegetable nature, while for the inorganic adulterants the simple methods of the laboratory were employed.

I have considered the "alum question" at some length, inasmuch as the very general use of alum baking powders in this country made it desirable to ascertain the prevalent opinion of chemists and physiologists regarding the wholesomeness of such preparations.


Saleratus.-The term saleratus was originally applied to bicarbonate of potash and previous to the introduction of baking powders was in common use in the kitchen. Its greater cost however has led to the substitution for it of the much cheaper compound bicarbonate of

soda, and at present none of the saleratus sold by grocers contains the potash salt. This substitution cannot, however, be considered as an adulteration, inasmuch as there is nothing necessarily restricting the name saleratus to the bicarbonate of potash, and so long as the commercial article is sold at the price of the soda compound there is no

evidence of intention to defraud.

I have examined twenty samples of saleratus submitted to me, and in every case they consisted of bicarbonate of soda without foreign matter other than that always found in the commercial article. The samples were put up and sold in paper packages, and in most cases were marked with the manufacturer's name. The sale of such articles in bulk and with no name attached is always objectionable as offering greater facilities for adulteration.

Baking Soda.- This is the commercial bicarbonate of soda, which as such is employed in cooking, and also forms one of the active ingredients of baking powder. Of the twenty-three samples examined only three were adulterated. One with terra alba or ground gypsum, to the extent of about twenty-five per cent ; another with about the same amount of gypsum in addition to a small quantity of starch; and the third with a large amount of sulphate of soda and about seventeen per cent. of carbonate of lime. On account of its cheapness there is little temptation to adulterate baking soda. It should be remarked that every commercial bicarbonate of soda contains small amounts of the sulphate and chloride of sodium as impurity in its manufacture. As these impurities are in no way injurious, in the small quantity in which they exist, and as a chemically pure article would be expensive, no special objection can be raised to their presence. It is interesting, however, to know to what extent these impurities exist, and the following table gives the results of some analyses to ascertain the amount of sulphate of soda present in common baking soda.

1. Percentage of anhydrous sulphate of soda..

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1.05 0.88


A number of samples of baking soda were examined for the purpose of determining the amount of alumina which might be present as an impurity in the process of manufacture. While traces were present in all cases, the amount was too small to admit of weighing.

Cream of Tartar.- This is the acid or bi-tartrate of potassium, and is used both in medicine and in culinary preparations. Its comparatively high price renders it an article of very general adulteration. Of the twenty-seven samples examined, sixteen were adulterated and in some cases not a particle of cream of tartar was to be found. Six samples were adulterated with terra alba and starch, one with starch alone, and two with starch, terra alba and acid phosphate of calcium. six samples tartaric acid had been substituted for cream of tartar and in each case the sample was otherwise adulterated. Tartaric acid possesses


greater acidity than the acid tartrate of potash and hence its substitution. allows the addition of more foreign matter and at the same time the maintaining of a certain degree of acidity. In eight samples the amount of terra alba was determined and found to range from 3.27 to 93 per cent. Five samples contained over 70 per cent. of this adulteration.

Cream of tartar, unless chemically pure, contains a certain amount of tartrate of lime as an impurity. This compound is not injurious, but of course diminishes the value of the salt by introducing so much inert matter. So far as I am aware, no limit to this impurity has been fixed, even in its use medicinally, although there seems to be no reason for not establishing some limit. The amount of tartrate of lime in commercial cream of tartar varies from two to fifteen per cent., but six or seven per cent. may be considered as a fair average. Of the twenty-seven samples examined, the tartrate of lime was determined in twelve of them which were not adulterated. The amount varied from a trace in one sample to 10.59 per cent. as a maximum. Nor did the article as sold for medicinal purposes appear in any way superior to that sold by grocers.

The following table gives the results of the twelve samples examined:

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Baking Powders.-These are artificial preparations employed as substitutes for yeast in the raising of bread, biscuits, etc. They consist of bicarbonate of soda and some acid or acid salt which, upon the addition of water, react on each other with the elimination of carbonic acid gas. The bicarbonate of soda is common to them all, but various acid compounds have been employed to liberate the gas, and from them the powder naturally takes its name.

There are four classes of baking powders in common use. In the first cream of tartar is employed, in the second tartaric acid, in the third acid phosphate of calcium, and in the fourth potash or ammonia alum. Moreover many powders contain a salt of ammonia. In the alum powders it occurs as a constituent of the alum itself, while in others it is, as a rule, introduced as the sesquicarbonate of ammonia. The pungent odor which this salt possesses prevents its use in any but the smallest quantities, and so used it cannot be considered as in any way affecting the wholesomeness of the powder. Experience has shown that when the acid compound and the bicarbonate are mixed, a reaction gradually takes place between them, which liberates the gas before it is needed, and results in a certain deterioration of the powder. To

counteract this, flour or starch is generally added to the mixture, which increases the keeping quality of the powder, although it cannot entirely prevent the deterioration. This "filling" as it is called, cannot be considered as objectionable if used only in such amounts as are necessary to preserve the powder, but it may be added in such quantities that it will be nothing more nor less than adulteration. To define adulteration in this connection would necessitate the fixing of some limit to the amount of flour or starch which might be added. There are certain difficulties which attend the fixing of such a limit. The various mixtures of bicarbonate of soda with acid salts do not furnish the same percentage of gas, inasmuch as some of these salts possess greater acidity than others. It follows that the manufacturer employing the salt of greatest neutralizing power might justly claim the right to use more filling, inasmuch as his powder would have greater strength, or liberate a larger percentage of gas. To avoid this difficulty it would be necessary to fix some standard amount of gas which the different powders should yield, and then the question of "filling" would regulate itself. Just what such a standard of available gas should be it would be difficult, and without considerable experiment, impossible to decide. The amount of filling which I have found ranges from 20 to 60 per cent., although it may be more than that in powders in which it was not determined.

Eighty-four baking powders have been submitted to me for examination, which on analysis I find to be divided as follows:

Cream of tartar powders...

Tartaric acid powders.
Alum powders..

Phosphate powders...

Cream of tartar and alum powders (mixed)..
Phosphate and alum powders (mixed)..






Seventy-three contained either flour or starch, while eleven had no filling whatever. Thirty-five contained ammonia in some form of combination. Of the total number examined, eight powders were adulterated, six with terra alba, one with insoluble phosphate of calcium, and one with tartrate of lime, doubtless as an adulteration of the cream of tartar employed.


Flour. The term flour, in its more restricted sense, is applied to the powder obtained by grinding the various cereals used as food.

The object of this paper being to ascertain the extent and nature of adulteration with the view of applying some correction for the evil, it is obviously foreign to such purpose to enter into any elaborate description of the nature of the different flours, or discussion as to analytical methods, except so far as it is necessary to reach the object in view. Wheaten Flour. It is somewhat unfortunate that any of the cereals and cereal preparations submitted for examination were "free" samples, since it would seem to indicate a certain amount of knowledge as

to the purpose in obtaining them, and consequently warrant the inference that they represent the best quality sold in the State, and not the poorest nor even an average quality. On the other hand I have no information to warrant the supposition that there is any considerable adulteration practiced.

Thirty-three samples of wheat products were submitted to me for examination, including eight samples of "gluten flour," and three samples of "farina," besides several samples of graham flour. There are quite a number of "gluten flours" on the market, which are supposed to contain a special addition of gluten. The samples which I have examined I find to be free from adulteration, and while some contain little or no more gluten than is normally present in wheaten flour, others are honestly deserving of the name gluten flour, These conclusions I have reached by microscopical examination, the chemical analysis necessary to determine the relative value of these flours, I have not had the time as yet to complete.

The samples of "farina," which consist of finely granulated wheat, were found of excellent quality, as also the samples of wheaten flour and graham flour, the latter consisting of the unbolted flour of wheat.

The adulterations of wheaten flour may consist, first, of an admixture of foreign flour or meal, as that of barley, corn, bean, rice and potato, or secondly of mineral matter, as alum, clay, chalk, etc. The addition of corn meal to flour is reported as having occurred in this country, although I have not noticed cases of this kind; the addition of mineral matter is of rare occurrence. Damaged flour is sometimes placed upon the market, mixed either with good flour, or with some mineral matter, as alum, the action of which is to disguise its inferior quality. The use of alum, so far as it acts injuriously upon the human system, will be considered elsewhere, but its employment in damaged flour should be emphatically condemned, aside from the question of its wholesomeness. In damaged flour the gluten has undergone a partial decomposition or fermentation, giving a dark appearance to the flour. The alum acts as an antiseptic, checking this decomposition and giving a bread much whiter than could otherwise be obtained. For the same purpose it is sometimes added to sound flour to give an unnaturally white bread.

Another cause of deterioration in flour and one occasionally met with is the presence of some animal or vegetable parasite of the grain; and of these, smut, mildew, darnel, rust and ergot are the most important. The limits of this paper will not allow any discussion of these parasitic growths, nor of the more common animal parasites. There seems, however, to be sufficient ground for the statement that some of the ill effects generally attributed to other causes are in reality due to a vegetable parasite. From my own experience I am inclined to think that darnel will be found much more frequently than other vegetable parasites, and even this I have not noticed except in carelessly cultivated cereals.

Of the other cereal preparations which I have examined little need be said. They are as a rule free from adulteration, and the methods for detecting the adulterations of wheaten flour apply also in the case of other flours and cereals.

Oatmeal, Rye, Barley.- Twelve samples of oatmeal, ranging in price from five to fifteen cents per pound, seven samples of barley preparations and the same number of rye products were submitted for examina

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