Click here to translate this page. translate gadget at page bottom  

Why Chemical Food Preservatives Are Never Harmless

FDA History 01
by Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., the very first commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), then known as the “US Bureau of Chemistry.”

   It would be impossible and perhaps unnecessary to survey the whole field of 
effort which led to the enactment of the Food and Drugs Law. It will be 
sufficient to take the last of the hearings as typical of all those that had 
gone before. If the Latin motto is true, "ex pede, Herculem," we can judge the 
whole of this opposition by its last expiring effort, just as we can recreate 
Hercules if we have a. part of his big toe.

   The final hearings were before the committee on Interstate and Foreign 
Commerce, beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1906. This was just before the time the 
bill was completed in the Senate and after an agreement had been made to vote on 
it the 21st of February. These hearings are printed in a volume containing 408 
pages. Pages 1 to 40 are taken up with testimony that benzoate of soda is a 
perfectly harmless substance. These witnesses were made up of both manufacturers 
and experts. The experts were Dr. Edward Kremers, of the University of 
Wisconsin, Professor Frank S. Kedzie of the Agricultural College of Michigan, 
and Dr. Victor C. Vaughan, Dean of the College of Medicine of the University of 
Michigan. The manufacturers who testified in this case unanimously said that the 
business of keeping food could not be carried on without the use of some 
preservative and that eminent scientific men had declared that benzoate of soda, 
borax, etc., in the proportions used were entirely harmless. Ex-Senator William 
S. Mason was also before the committee in the interest 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 propaganda of rectified 

   Although food bills of various kinds had been continually before Congress for 
a quarter of a century, the character of the opposition thereto had not changed. 
The excerpts here given are typical of the whole struggle.
   Inasmuch as this closing testimony was the final effort to block the passage 
of the food law, it is summarized at some length. Testimony of 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 traces of benzoic 
acid, and it seems to me if the Almighty put it there, the manufacturer ought to 
be allowed to use it, if he don't use it in the same quantities as put in the 
fruit by nature. * * *
   We went to three men, each of them connected with one of the largest 
universities in the United States, men who stand at the very top of their class 
in the chemical and physiological world.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Who were they?
   MR. WILLIAMS: Dr. Victor Vaughan, who is dean of medicine and physiology at 
the University of Michigan, a man whom I do not believe any one can speak 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 has 
given the subject the very closest attention is Dr. Frank Kedzie of the Michigan 
Agricultural College. * * *
   MR. TOWNSEND: Do you know of any manufacturer of these goods who does not use 
some form of preservative?
   MR. WILLIAMS: I do not.
   MR. TOWNSEND: As a manufacturer, do you know of any way to manufacture these 
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 by reason of the 
state laws interfering with your using this preservative?
   MR. WILLIAMS: Our firm has not. We have been told that as soon as this 
committee gets through with the hearings on this subject there is going to be 
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 will be condemned, 
and we also know that as soon as this bill becomes a law, if it ever becomes a 
law, it will be condemned by the Bureau of Chemistry. * * * Now, the only point 
is--and all I wish to bring out now--that I don't think this committee ought to 
recommend any legislation that will give one man the absolute power to say what 
the manufacturers of this country shall do and what they shall not do. There is 
a difference of opinion as to what is injurious and what is not injurious. We 
can show that the best scientific thought in this country will differ with the 
present Bureau of Chemistry. Now, gentlemen, do not understand for a moment that 
I am attacking Dr. Wiley or the Bureau of Chemistry or the Department of 
Agriculture. I am simply pointing out, or trying to point out, the principle of 
this bill. The principle is wrong. It is not fair; and I think before you allow 
anyone to condemn any preservative about which there is a question that you 
ought to investigate the subject fully by a committee of scientists--the best 
that we can find-appointed by the President or by Congress.
   In this connection it is interesting to know that 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 attitude which the Secretary of Agriculture held toward me at that time I 
was very certain that he would consult me in regard to the personnel of this 
committee which was to be appointed by him, and that not only eminent, but 
fair-minded members would be appointed on this committee. When the bill went to 
conference with the Senate bill the conferees on the part of the Senate would 
not consent to encumbering the bill with an additional authority paramount to 
that of the Bureau of Chemistry. The Senate conferees contended that the whole 
matter of wholesomeness and unwholesomeness of ingredients 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 the nucleus of the Remsen 
Board. This view of Mr. Williams was shared by practically all the objecting 
witnesses, both scientific and legal, as well as all of those interested in 
commercial matters throughout the whole course of the discussion of the various 
food bills before the committees of Congress. It was also voiced on the floors 
of both the Senate and the House. In spite of all this publicity and opposition 
the Congress. of the United States conferred upon the Bureau of Chemistry the 
sole function of acting as a grand jury in bringing indictments against 
offenders or supposed offenders of the law. The Congress specifically provided 
that all these indictments should have a fair, free and open trial before the 
Federal Courts for the purpose of confirming or denying the acts of, the Bureau 
of Chemistry.
   Professor Kremers at the close of his testimony before the Interstate and 
Foreign Commerce Committee disclosed the fact that Mr. Williams was the party 
who secured the participation of Professors Kremers, Kedzie and Vaughan in this 
hearing. I quote from page 39:
   MR. KREMERS: I would like to state just what I have been invited to 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 
vegetable kingdom, and also to find out what the best literature, the 
physiological and therapeutic literature on the subject, has to say with regard 
to the administration of benzoic acid to the human system and with regard to the 
course that it took in the human system. That is the extent of my knowledge on 
this particular subject. I have not gone outside of that.
   THE CHAIRMAN: Is there an employment in connection with this matter 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 in detail stated in the testimony the amount he was to receive 
for the work and the amount he was to receive in reporting the results of his 
work to the committee. In his testimony, which I was asked to summarize by the 
Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Mr. Kremers gave the results of 
his many investigations into natural food products in which he found traces of 
benzoic acid and related bodies. I quote from his testimony, page 33:
   MR. KREMERS: Gentlemen, I don't want to take up more of your valuable time 
unless you desire to ask some questions of me, for I fear I may not have made 
myself perfectly clear. I will admit that I am accustomed to talking technically 
on technical subjects, and that I am not an expert in the popularization of 
scientific subjects. I trust you will pardon my shortcomings in this respect. 
But briefly let me summarize the facts I have tried to make clear to you. 
Benzoic acid is found in the 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 for food purposes. We find it even more widely in 
food products which are used by herbivorous animals. 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 formed in the human 
system and that the amount of hippuric acid eliminated from the system is 
increased whether we administer benzoic acid as such or whether we add it 
through certain food products; in other words, that benzoic acid is a natural 
product of the human economy.
   Finally, I have tried to make clear to you, gentlemen, that whether it seems 
desirable to you or not to prohibit the use of benzoic acid from any artificial 
source rather than the natural source, and there is no bitter-almond oil which, 
after it is a day old, but that contains some benzoic acid,--that benzoic acid 
directly or indirectly will be administered to the system through the 
bitter-almond flavor, 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 acid has an 
injurious effect upon the body?
   MR. KREMERS: I told you that I am not a physiologist, but I have prepared 
myself for a question of that sort, because it occurred to me that it would be a 
natural question for you to ask. I have here, in order that I might not 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 statement 
concerning the physiological action of benzoic acid. This statement is written 
by Professor Hare, one of the most prominent writers in this country on 
therapeutic subjects (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 read the last 
paragraph; but it will be apparent to you that Mr. Hare does not speak of 
benzoic 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 they are very much 
larger than any amount that is necessary to bring about the preservative action.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Does any antiseptic that is taken into the system interfere 
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 quote the summary that Mr. Kremers 
himself made of his testimony rather than to attempt any condensation of it 
myself. I may add here for the further information of the reader of this story 
that Dr. W. D. Bigelow, my first assistant in the Bureau of Chemistry, repeated 
many of the investigations reported by Mr. Kremers, as to the wide distribution 
of benzoic acid in food products, and failed to confirm them.
   Dr. Kedzie testified that he is the son of Professor Kedzie, the 
distinguished chemist of the Michigan Agricultural College. He was associated 
with his father as professor of chemistry at that institution, that he undertook 
these investigations under the same auspices and practically for the same 
remuneration as was given to Professor Kremers and Professor Vaughan. I quote 
from page 58:
   MR. KEDZIE: I took up this matter of finding where benzoic acid was 
distributed among materials which I could purchase in the market. I will read 
these articles in about the order in which I found the greatest quantity of
benzoic acid: cranberries, huckleberries, plums, grapes (the Malaga grape), 
grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, rhubarb, and 
green peppers. The amount of benzoic acid which I found present in cranberries, 
taking the dry material, we find the dried substance of the cranberry contains 
about, on the average, 1/2 of 1% of benzoic acid, but when we calculate it as to 
the wet substance, it then falls to 5/100 of 1% on account of the water present, 
or, to put it differently, it is one part in two thousand. * * * In analyzing 
the sample of catsup in the Michigan market I have found that the amount of 
benzoic acid varies from one part in twelve hundred to one part in two thousand. 
These are the first class goods, such as Heinz sells in Michigan, and also sold 
by Curtice Brothers.
   THE CHAIRMAN: Do you find any benzoic acid in catsup made by Heinz?
   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 labeled with 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's office is right where I live.
   MR. MANN: I have been told that it never had been done, and wondered whether 
it had or not.
   MR. KEDZIE: I am sorry that I can not be absolutely certain in regard to 
   MR. WAGNER: How recently have you examined Heinz's goods?
   MR. KEDZIE: I collected a sample about three weeks ago, and I 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 benzoic acid in 
these other fruits?
   MR. KEDZIE: I made a thorough test of each one and I am prepared to say that 
in the grapefruit and the pineapple the amount of benzoic acid present there 
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 how much benzoic 
acid was there?
   MR. KEDZIE: Only in the cranberries, and that I did over and over again. * * 
   THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. Hepburn): What would be the effect of a large dose of 
benzoic acid upon the human stomach?
   MR. KEDZIE: Well, now, Mr. Chairman, I am not a physiological chemist. My 
work is analytical and what I know about that question is not much. I never took 
a large dose of benzoic acid-that is, a large dose, of course, would be 60 or 
100 grains or more. I never took it and know nothing about it. I am not a doctor 
of medicine.
   THE CHAIRMAN: From your knowledge of the properties and qualities of 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 large doses 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, in the 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 the testimony of these experts is 
that they were honestly of the opinion that because some of these preservatives 
were found in natural food products it was perfectly proper to imitate nature 
and increase these amounts. The weakness of this argument is so apparent that 
only a few of the causes of the fallacy need be mentioned. Hydrocyanic acid, 
perhaps one of the most poisonous organic acids known, exists in minute traces 
in the fruit of peaches and plums, associated often with benzaldehyde, a 
flavoring agent. It exists in some varieties of cassava in such proportions that 
fatal effects have resulted from eating the cassava starch. Salicylic acid is 
present in a flavoring product known as oil of wintergreen and may exist, in 
traces, also in other food products. Passing from the ranks of organic poisons, 
arsenic is a widely distributed poisonous material which is often found in our 
foods, due to absorption from the soil. The presence of these bodies, instead of 
being a warrant for using more of them, points to the necessity of reducing 
their quantity to the minimal amount possible.
   Another point in this connection is worthy of mention. These experts were 
paid for the work they did and for the expense of laying it before the 
committee. I mention this without even a suspicion of criticism. I think payment 
of this kind is perfectly ethical and proper. On the other hand, during the 
twenty-five years in which food bills of various kinds were discussed before 
committees of Congress, not a single expert appeared before these committees 
urging the enactment of the good sort thereof who received any compensation 
whatever for his services. Probably officials of the various states who appeared 
frequently before committees of Congress to urge the passage of these bills had 
their expenses paid by their respective states, but received -no other 
compensation. In the twenty-five years of active opposition to the use of 
preservatives it never occurred to me to think of any compensation save that of 
my regular salary.
   MR. VAUGHAN: I am thoroughly desirous that something should be done to 
regulate the use of preservatives in foods.
   MR. BURKE: Where would you draw the line? Where would you fix the point 
beyond which it would be dangerous to go in the use of benzoic acid, as to 
   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 what 
preservatives could be used and in what amounts they could be used, and in what 
foods they 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 to the matter?
   MR. VAUGHAN: Yes; I have an opinion of my own, but that opinion might be 
changed by further study of the subject. I am sure that benzoic, acid in the 
quantities in which it is used in tomato catsup, sweet pickles, etc., does not 
do 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 against the use of sulphite of soda on Hamburger steak. I am 
thoroughly in sympathy with the Hepburn bill. It does seem to me, however, that 
it is the part of wisdom not to say that preservatives shall not be used at all, 
but to find out what foods need preservatives, and in what quantities they might 
be used with safety.
   MR. BURKE: Is not formaldehyde used very generally now in preserving cream 
and milk?
   MR. VAUGHAN: I do not think it is used generally. It is used to some extent.
   MR. BURKE: Where cream is gathered up and shipped some distance to a creamery 
they use some preservatives, and usually formaldehyde, do they not?
   MR. VAUGHAN: I do not know. I have not found much formaldehyde in 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 absolutely forbids the use 
of preservatives?
   MR. VAUGHAN: No, Sir; but I find that it puts into the hands of one man, or 
of one Department, at least, the question of deciding as to the harmfulness of 
   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 your opinion, 
I take it?
   MR. VAUGHAN: Certainly, certainly.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Right there I want to ask you this question; as I understand, 
some experiments have been made with benzoic acid to determine whether it is 
harmful or not, by giving doses of pure benzoic acid to patients. What have you 
to say in regard to that method of determining the safety of benzoic 
acid--whether it 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 present time. 
Dr. Wiley has made a report on boric acid as to preservatives, and while I am a 
personal friend of Dr. Wiley's, appreciate him very highly and think greatly of 
him, his experiments have shown that boric acid in large amounts disturbs 
digestion and interrupts good health, but they have not shown that boric acid in 
the small quantities which would be used as a preservative, if used at all, has 
any effect on 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 animated discussion with members of 
the committee in regard to what kind of board should be provided for in the law 
to decide all these questions. At the end of this discussion the following 
questions were asked:
   MR. BURKE: When benzoic acid is taken in excessive quantities what is the 
   MR. VAUGHAN: In large quantities it irritates the stomach. In very large 
quantities it causes acute inflammation of the mucous membranes of the stomach,
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 inflammation of the 
   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 wholesomely 
without injury?
   MR. VAUGHAN: I should say certainly that the amount that is found 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 asked how, much can 
you eat?
   MR. VAUGHAN: I would have to answer only in a general way and say a grain or 
two, I am sure, taken day by day for one's life, would not do any harm.
   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 up my dictum. I do 
not know enough about it.
   MR. MANN: I appreciate your position, Doctor; but still, as far as you can, 
we would like to have your opinion.
   MR. VAUGHAN: Well, I should say one grain would be perfectly safe. I do not 
know whether two grains would be or not.
   It is not at all surprising that at the end of this 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 benzoic acid in food 
products, but he, was under the impression that even one grain a day for every 
day would be safe, but by eating two grains a day for all one's life it might 
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 
deliberative body.
   The most spectacular of the witnesses who appeared against the bill was Dr. 
Eccles of Brooklyn. Dr. Eccles describes himself as a physician residing 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 law 
would 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 actively opposed to the pending bill, was also present at the 
hearing. Dr. Eccles stressed the fact that instead of trying to prevent the 
addition of preservatives to foods their 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 compel them to use 
substances less deleterious than vinegar. I would not let them go below vinegar. 
I would allow them to use substances the dose of which is smaller than a dose of 
acetic acid or vinegar. Substances of larger doses than vinegar I would allow 
them to put in a certain fraction of the dose, and I would make the fraction the 
same for every substance, with no exception. I would have those gentlemen fixing 
the Pharmacopoeia say that no substance could be used that is stronger than the 
acid of vinegar under any circumstances. * * * In other places, where the 
preservatives have been stopped, the death rate has risen. Two notable 
illustrations have occurred lately--exceedingly notable. In North Dakota, the 
state of pure food--Senator McCumber's state--they tried the experiment. In 
Germany, particularly in Berlin, in the same year they tried the experiment. 
These two places were put up as tests. I predicted that 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 Health of the State of North 
Dakota and the :figures of the German Government in their own publications show 
that they transcended my prediction; that the deaths were nearly three 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 use of 
preservatives, and it did occur just as I predicted from the stopping of the use 
of 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 tirade against the pending measure 
and in favor of substituting the Rodenberg bill therefor. Warwick M. Hough, 
attorney for the National Wholesale Liquor Dealers Association of America, 
endeavored to have the pending measure changed so that deleterious substances in 
compounded and blended whiskies should have the same protection that similar 
substances had in straight whisky. Mr. Hough had appeared many times before the 
committees endeavoring to secure immunity for the artificially compounded 
whiskies. He evidently saw clearly what 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 of the Bureau of Chemistry for whisky went 
into effect, Mr. Hough carried the case to several 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 Bureau of 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 showed to the committee 
their fallacy. On page 173 he says:
   MR. TAYLOR: This investigation in 1893 of the whisky trust showed that the 
people of the United States were being imposed on to such an extent that this 
committee recommended to Congress that it incorporate into law a suggestion made 
by the deputy commissioner of Internal Revenue, Mr. Wilson, which was the origin 
of what is known as the "Bottling in Bond" act--a national law which enjoys so 
much disparagement that it is a pleasure to me to have the opportunity to 
explain it. The reason it has such disparagement is because the other 95 per 
cent of the so-called whisky on the American market today is the spurious 
article and can not get the guarantee stamp which is put over bottled in bond 
whisky. * * * And I have here the report of the Ways and Means committee in the 
House, in recommending the bill for passage--approving the bill. Here is the 
official report. It is all very well for Mr. Hough or myself to come up here and 
express an opinion as to the intention of the law, but I think it is to the 
advantage of this committee if we can produce some official expression as to the 
purpose of the law, and take the matter out of contention. * * *
   " The obvious purpose of the measure is to allow the bottling of spirits 
under such circumstances and supervision as will give assurances to all 
purchasers of the purity, of the article purchased, and the machinery devised 
for accomplishing this makes it apparent that this object will certainly be 
   Mr. Allen was the militant administrator of the food laws of Kentucky. As a 
state official he realized most keenly the need of a national law. He had heard 
the arguments against adopting this measure most patiently. The impression he 
gained from listening to this testimony is thus illustrated by his own words 
(page 20-5).

   I want to say in this connection right here that there are two sides 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 the 
question; but when you come specifically down to these questions: Should glucose 
be sold as glucose or as honey or maple syrup? Should any synthetic product be 
sold under 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 you come down to those propositions I think that not only the 
food commissioners, but the 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 like yourself and others in Congress who are 
interested on this subject and cut aside from 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 equitable to all and which would 
accomplish the purposes for which we are working along the lines of national 
pure-food legislation. In our Kentucky work we are not only the food 
commissioners of the people, the consumers, but we are also the food 
commissioners of 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, the Hon. W. P. Hepburn of Iowa, 
gave notice that the hearings in favor of and against a food law preventing 
adulterations of the kind described were closed. Thus those who had for 
twenty-five years favored all kinds of adulterations and misbranding were 
finally shut out of any further participation in forming a food and drug act.
   The Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry had been informed by Mr. Hepburn and his 
lieutenant, the Hon. James R. Mann, that he should have 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 and against preservatives as 
affecting the public health. His testimony begins on page 237 and extends to the 
end of the report on page 408.
   DR. WILEY: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee: At the request of 
your chairman and in harmony with the terms of the resolution passed by your 
honorable body, and with the consent of the Secretary of Agriculture, I appear 
before you for the purpose of summing up the expert testimony which has been 
offered in the hearings held before your committee during the past fortnight on 
the pending measure concerning the regulation of interstate and foreign commerce 
in foods. Numerous expert witnesses have appeared before your body, mostly in 
opposition to the pending measure, and a few witnesses have appeared in favor 
thereof. I appear before you not as the advocate of any particular measure, but 
as an advocate of legislation of some kind controlling interstate and foreign 
commerce in adulterated and misbranded foods and drugs. I shall support with 
what influence I may possess any bill which your honorable body in its wisdom 
may report, although it might not, and probably would not, meet with my entire 
approbation. I do not believe it is possible to draw any 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 principle of 
the legislation and to regard as of minor importance the various details which 
may be devised to obtain the end in view.
   In the discussion of some of the principal points which have been 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 interpreting 
them that I shall hope may be attributed to me. The cause of truth is never hurt 
by 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 effort to those whose 
contentions I feel impelled to resist. I desire to point out wherein I think 
they have fallen into errors of statement followed by fallacious reasoning 
leading to wrong conclusions. I want to point out how they have misunderstood 
the efforts which have been made to ascertain certain facts relating to the 
effect of preservatives, coloring matters, and other substances added to foods 
on health and digestion; how they have misinterpreted the purpose and scope of 
the food standards which 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 seems to them a demon of future dangers, but which is 
nothing more than a phantom of a perturbed imagination.
   In doing this I shall speak frankly and freely, without any bias or rancor, 
without any feeling of resentment for the many denunciations and anathemas which 
have been published all over this broad land and in Europe during the past two 
   I hope you may not conclude from the necessary trend of my argument that 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 logging camps and long journeys on the sea, and in other exigencies, 
preservatives may be indicated. I also think that the consumer who prefers them 
should not be denied that preference. My argument, therefore, applies to the 
usual conditions which obtain in this country and especially to the apparent 
fact that the great majority of our people seem to prefer their food untreated 
with noncondimental preservatives.
   As it has appeared to me from listening to a part of the testimony and 
reading a part thereof, the character of the opposition to the pending measure 
may be described as follows:
  Opposition to the cardinal principles of the bill. 
  Opposition to some of the prohibition principles of the bill. 
  Opposition to the method of enforcing the bill. 
  Opposition to the officials who may be called upon to enforce the bill. 
  Opposition of special interests engaged in certain industries which apparently 
  may be affected to a greater or less extent by the provisions of the bill 
  should it become a law. 
   I will begin by a statement of the grounds of the opposition of the first 
class of objections. This opposition has not been brought out by any of the 
witnesses who have been called upon to testify; but is based upon broad 
Constitutional grounds 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 the effect 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 prohibition principles of the 
pending bill consist in the elimination of harmful and injurious ingredients 
which may be added to foods. I may say, and the statement is rather a broad 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 decisions as of the 
courts in such matters, and especially against the, method of collecting 
evidence for the prosecution. It is, of course, self evident that no prosecution 
could be brought, under these prohibition provisions unless some one should 
certify that 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 the committee. should insert prohibitive provisions in the bill 
against this prohibition. Plainly stated, the contention has been made that the 
Congress of the United States should 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 offered by 
Professor Kremers, of the University of Wisconsin, Professor Kedzie, of the 
Agricultural College of Michigan, and Professor Vaughan, of the University of 
Michigan. The high character and attainments of these experts entitle their 
views to the most profound and respectful consideration.
   The wide distribution of benzoic acid in vegetable products, as described by 
Professor Kremers, is well known to physiological and agricultural chemists. He 
says that in the destruction of certain proteins in the human economy benzoic 
acid is formed, which is then changed into hippuric acid. There is no evidence 
that I have been able to find to show that hippuric acid may not be formed from 
the benzol radical without its passing through the benzoic acid state. But this 
is of little importance, because even if benzoic acid should precede the 
formation of hippuric acid it could only exist in the most minute quantities and 
for a relatively very short period of time. Hippuric acid is one of the natural 
toxic or poisonous bodies produced in catabolic activity, which, like urea and 
other degradation products of proteins, must be at once eliminated from the 
system to avoid injury. Uremic poisoning at 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 food and drugs act during the 
time it was before Congress accentuates the fact that it is essentially a health 
measure, as has been officially confirmed by a decision of the Supreme Court of 
the United States.
   There had been little discussion during the whole twenty-five years of the 
subject of misbranding. This was such an apparent and unnecessary evil that it 
had few defenders. During all this time the chief discussion was the effect upon 
health of certain preservatives and coloring matters, and as to the selection of 
officials for carrying the law into effect. It was the unanimous opinion of all 
opponents of the law that the Bureau of Chemistry should have nothing to do with 
its enforcement. It was well understood that the attitude of the Bureau of 
Chemistry was distinctly hostile to the use of chemical preservatives of any 
kind in food and that all such manipulations threatening the health of the 
American consumer would be frowned upon. In spite of many attempts to prevent 
it, Congress deliberately and overwhelmingly decided to submit the execution of 
the law to the Bureau of Chemistry.
   In the future the student of history who may wish to review all that was said 
and done during the fight for the enactment of the pure food law will find all, 
the hearings in the libraries connected with the various committees in Congress 
in charge of these hearings. They are a thesaurus of interesting facts which the 
future historian ought not to overlook.

   MR. BARTLETT: I would conclude, then, that you think benzoic acid 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 make catsup 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 want to 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 
perfectly distinct.
   The human body is required to do a certain amount of normal work. That amount 
of normal work is a beneficial exercise of these organs. If you diminish the 
normal work of an organ you produce atrophy--lack of functional activity. If you 
increase it hypertrophy ensues, and increase of functional activity. Nearly all 
of the organs that wear out do so from one of those causes, not from normal 
exercise of their functions. Therefore, assuming that the food of man, as 
prepared by the Creator and modified by the cook, is the normal food of man, any 
change in the food which adds a burden to any of the organs, or any change which 
diminishes their normal functional activity, must be hurtful.
   MR. ESCH: If the organs were always normal, death would not ensue?
   DR. WILEY: I will not go so far as that, Mr. Esch. I do, refer to longevity, 
though, and I believe this with all my heart, that when man eats a normal food 
normally the length of human life will be greatly extended. That is what I 
believe. But if we consume abnormal food abnormally we shall lessen the length 
of human life.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Who is going to define normal food; there is a great difference 
of opinion about that?
   DR. WILEY: I will admit that.
   MR. MANN: Doctor, do you think the action of eating cranberries with turkeys 
is detrimental to health in any way or to any degree?
   DR. WILEY: I will answer that as categorically as I can. I do not believe 
that a healthy organism is going to receive any permanent injury or measurable 
injury by eating cranberries because they contain benzoic acid. And I want to 
add this, that it is not because they contain benzoic acid that they are 
wholesome, but that if they did not contain it they would be more wholesome than 
they are.
   I want to accentuate this point: I noticed very many questions from 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 
acid never takes any part in the formation of tissue, and its. degradation 
product is hippuric acid, which is a most violent poison. If the kidneys should 
cease to act for twenty-four hours there is not a man on this committee who 
would not be at death's door from the hippuric acid and the urea which would be 
in the blood. Hippuric acid is perhaps far more poisonous than urea; it is a 
deadly poison. Therefore nature gets rid of it directly it is formed, otherwise 
health would be destroyed.
   Now, is there force in the argument, gentlemen, that in view of the fact that 
this degradation product comes from the natural foods which we eat--and I am not 
criticizing the Creator at all for putting them in the food--then benzoic acid, 
which occurs in natural foods and of which the degradation product is a violent 
poison if increased by an infimitesimal amount, and although we may not be able 
to note any injury coming from it, yet should we be advised to use it? There is 
a subtle injury which will tell in time. For instance, a mathematician desires 
to make a curve to 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 the small end of his curve; it is impossible. He 
experiments upon the part of the curve that he can measure, fixes the ordinates 
and the abscissas with the points that he can 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 curve on data which you can 
measure, and then you draw your curve down to the inflnitesimally small. That 
curve is a curve the moment it varies from zero, although you can not see it or 
measure it. If you add any substance to food--add, I say--which produces a 
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 in the cranberries 
to the extent that the benzoic acid exists injure cranberries as a food?
   DR. WILEY: It is so small. that you can not measure its harmful effects.
   MR. MANN: But to the extent that it exists at all; or that the other values 
in cranberries as a food in the normal use of them overcome the injurious 
effects of benzoic acid. If that be the case, might not that be the case of 
other preservatives in other foods?
   DR. WILEY: What is true of one is true of all.
   MR. MANN: But with artificial preservatives. Might not the case arise where, 
although the food is injured to the extent in which the preservative exists, yet 
it has preserved the food so that it is better food, the total product is better 
than the food would have been without the preservative. That is what we want to 
get at here.
   DR. WILEY: I stated that particularly in my introduction. I said there were 
many places where preservatives were indicated. Wherever you can make 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 subject of 
cranberries, about the effect of berries, in which I am locally interested. I 
can give up cranberries, but I can not give up blackberries and huckleberries. * 
* *
   MR. BARTLETT: Did you see the account in yesterday's Herald about the dinner 
that some chemist gave to a friend in New York, at which everything they ate was 
made out of acids and things of that kind?
   MR. MANN: Synthetic products?
   DR. WILEY: Yes, sir; I saw the account, and I know the gentlemen very well. I 
don't believe any of them would care to eat that kind of a dinner every day. It 
is like my very distinguished friend, Professor Chittenden, perhaps the most 
distinguished physiological chemist in this country, who proved conclusively to 
himself that man in his natural tastes ate too much protein. The average man 
instead of eating 17 grams of nitrogen in a day, as he does, ought not to eat 
more than 10 or 11. But almost every man taught to do that, I understand, has 
gone back to the old way, although apparently it was beneficial at the time.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Professor Chittenden does not agree with you in regard to the 
use of preservatives.
   DR. WILEY: I think not; I think he does not agree with me. I want to say 
here, Mr. Chairman, that experts never think the less of each other because they 
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 you describe for four 
years, and I am running it to-day; and would be pleased to have you come down 
and take a meal with us.
   MR. ADAMSON: I think I would prefer to have a colored woman do the cooking 
for me.
   DR. WILEY: We have a colored cook. You will hear more about that boarding 
house later on.
   MR. BARTLETT: I understood you to say you knew these gentlemen in 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 high opinion of the 
chemists of this country. Just as high when they differ from as when they agree 
with me.
   MR. ADAMSON: While you have such a high opinion, yet you do not 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 to do that 
   MR. ADAMSON: I wanted to give you a chance to disclaim that.
   DR. WILEY: Not only disclaim it, but I never have put myself in any such 
position and never intend to.
   Now I will go on with my statement.
   Because nature produces an almost infinitesimal quantity of substances in 
foods which add to the quantity of these poisonous excreta appears to me to be 
no valid argument for their wholesomeness. Could even the small trace of 
substances in our foods which produces hippuric acid be eliminated, the 
excretory organs would be relieved of a useless burden and the quantity of work 
required by them 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 required by the adding of substances capable of producing 
poisonous degradation products is helpful and advisable. Granting, for the sake 
of the argument, the grounds of a trace of 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 is a useful medicine, 
no one who has ever studied medicine will deny, but I think almost every 
practicing physician will tell you that the exhibition of drugs having a 
medicinal value in case of health is highly prejudicial to the proper activity 
of these drugs when used in disease. The excretory organs of the body become 
deadened in their sensibilities by the continued bombardment to which they are 
subjected and do not respond at the proper time to the stimulus which a medicine 
is supposed to produce. Keeping the hand in cold water constantly would unfit it 
to be benefited by the addition of a cold application for remedial purposes.
   I think that I need only call the attention of the committee to the wide 
distinction between a drug used for medicinal purposes and a food product to 
show them that all reasoning based on the value of drugs as medicines is totally 
inapplicable to their possibly beneficial effects in foods. I further think I 
shall be sustained almost unanimously by the medical profession of the United 
States when I say to this committee that the "drug habit," which is so 
constantly and so unavoidably, I am sorry to say, formed in this country is one 
of the greatest sources of danger to the public health and of difficulty in the 
use of remedial agents that can well be imagined. Professor Kremers, on page 33, 
seeks to justify the statement he reads from Professor Hare respecting the 
properties of benzoic acid by saying that 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 abnormal condition of the urine, and 
therefore it might be advisable in using borax, which has been pronounced 
harmless by some experts here, to be able to counteract one of its particularly 
certain effects by administering a remedy at the same time that you supply the 
cause of the disease. For this reason your committee might well say in the bill 
that whenever borax is used in foods benzoic acid should also be used as a 
corrective of its dangerous influences.
   I am somewhat surprised also at the reference that Professor Kremers makes to 
salt, on page 34. Salt is not only a delightful condiment, but an absolute 
necessity to human life, and the fact that excessive doses of salt are injurious 
has no more to do with this argument than the fact that you can make yourself 
ill by eating too much meat. It seems to me astonishing in these days of rigid 
scientific investigation that such fallacious reasoning can be seriously 
indulged in for the sake of proving the harmlessness of a noncondimental 
substance. Yet this is the argument advanced by Professor Kremers on page 34 in 
respect of salt, wood smoke, and other useful, valuable, and necessary 
condimental bodies. The argument in regard to benzaldehyde in 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 addition of a 
substance which increases the quantity of poisonous principles in the excrements 
is a matter entirely beyond my comprehension. I am perfectly familiar with the 
argument that 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 would produce 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 rules of physiology and logic.
   The body wears out and death supervenes in natural order from two causes: 
First, from a failure of the absorptive activities of the metabolic processes, 
and, second, by an increased activity of the catabolic processes, producing 
increased amounts of poisonous and toxic matters in the system, while the 
excretory organs are less able to care for them. Thus the general vitality of 
the body is gradually reduced, and even old age, which is regarded as a natural 
death, is a result of these toxic activities carried through a period of time 
varying in extreme old age from eighty to one hundred years. This process is 
described by Professor Minot, of Harvard University, as the differentiation and 
degeneration of. the protoplasm. On the contrary, it is not difficult to show 
that .every condimental substance, by its necessary and generally stimulating 
effect upon the excretory organs which produce the enzymes of digestion, 
produces a positively helpful result, while its preservative properties are 
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 of nature, and therefore I ask your very careful consideration of 
the arguments based upon a comparison of noncondimental preservatives added to 
foods and the use of the condimental substances which are natural and necessary. 
I do not believe that your minds will be misled in the consideration of this 
important and radical distinction.
   A careful review of other parts of the argument of Professor Kremers shows 
that he unwittingly admits the poisonous and deleterious properties of benzoic 
acid by calling attention, on page 35, to the fact that when doses of it are 
added to an kinds of stock, so called, preserved in large quantities, it is 
boiled out or disappears by sublimation during subsequent treatment. If benzoic 
acid is a. harmless substance, as suggested, why should so much importance be 
attached by its advocates to the fact that it is practically eliminated? Thus 
the advocates of benzoic acid at once, by their own words, show the insecurity 
of the platform on which they stand.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Did you understand him to testify in that way as 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 to the preparation 
of the stock.
   DR. WILEY: Yes; I have mentioned that in large quantities, in relation to the 
   You are asked to insert in this bill a provision which will allow 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 the 
cranberry, which, of all known vegetable substances used as foods, contains the 
largest quantity. Fortunately, cranberries are not an article of daily diet. Do 
not, I beg of you, lose view of the fact that because a single dose of benzoic 
acid does not make you ill its daily consumption is wholly harmless. This is a 
non-sequitur of the most dangerous character.
   Professor Kremers says that he has searched through all literature and has 
not found a statement that benzoic acid administered even in medicinal doses 
would produce harm. I would like to compare this with his own quotation of 
Professor Hare, 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 that there 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 not committed 
against a hundred or a million individuals. It is sufficient to prove that it 
was committed against one. Professor Kremers acknowledges that benzoic acid may 
be harmful, therefore Professor Kremers has convicted benzoic acid as being a 
harmful substance; and, therefore, his argument that it should be used 
indiscriminately in foods, or, as asked when before this committee, be permitted 
to the extent of one-fourth of 1 per cent, being ten times the quantity produced 
in its most abundant natural substance, seems wholly illogical.
   MR. TOWNSEND: That would be true of any article; that not only applies 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 ordinarily regarded as 
harmless. There are certain people who can not drink sweet milk; and I know 
people who can not eat eggs of any description, nor anything that has an egg in 
it. Now, do you think that everybody ought to be prevented from eating eggs or 
drinking milk if a half a dozen people in a thousand are injuriously affected by 
   DR. WILEY: Certainly not; nor would I prevent anybody from using benzoic acid 
who wanted to do it, but I certainly would help persons from using it who did 
not want to use it. I am not advocating the prohibition of the use of benzoic 
acid by anybody who wants to use it. I would be in favor of putting benzoic acid 
in a little salt-cellar, the same as is used for salt and pepper, and letting 
the people use it if they want to. I think benzoic acid would not hurt me, or be 
injurious to my system, if I used it one day--
   MR. BARTLETT: You know some people have tried to eat a quail a day for thirty 
days, but they get sick.
   MR. ADAMSON: Is there not a great difference between the occasional use of 
these poisons medicinally, in cases of emergency, and the use of them in any 
quantities in food?
   DR. WILEY: I think that is a great point. I will come presently to the 
statement of Professor Vaughan, which covers that case beautifully in the 
testimony he gave here.
   There are two points that I wanted to call to the attention of 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 acid in 
cranberries, huckleberries, plums, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, 
carrots, pears, cauliflower, rhubarb, and green peppers.
   We have obtained from the open market samples of the following fruits and 
vegetables, said by Professor Kedzie to contain benzoic, and tested them for 
benzoic acid:
   Malaga grapes, grapefruit, oranges, pineapples (two varieties), carrots, 
parsnips, cauliflower, rhubarb, and green peppers. We were unable to obtain any 
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 caused by 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 caused by benzoic acid, was so slight that the 
substance could not have been present in greater 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 substance in the quantities stated by 
Doctor Kedzie, viz., from one one-hundredth to two one-hundredths of 1 per cent.
   In 1904 1 obtained samples of huckleberries grown in three regions of the 
United States and did not succeed in obtaining the slightest indication of 
benzoic acid in any of them.
   Professor Kedzie also dwells upon the fact that in the process of cooking a 
great deal of the benzoic; acid escapes. Inasmuch as he contends that it is 
harmless, the object of enforcing this view of the case is not apparent, 
although I 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 not 
contain any benzoic acid. Professor Kedzie states that he has determined that 
the amount of benzoic acid in grapes is not far from one one-hundredth to one 
two-hundredths of 1 per cent. It requires, of course, very delicate 
manipulations to quantitatively determine these small quantities and very large 
quantities of samples must be taken. We feel certain that Professor Kedzie has 
utilized much more delicate methods than we have been able to develop in our own 
laboratory and I regret that he .did not disclose the methods employed to the 
   Professor Kedzie testifies that the artificial product added to a food does 
not differ from the article naturally present in food. He testifies that it is 
present as pure benzoic acid in either case. This statement would mean that if 
you should take some butter and skim milk and beat them up together the product 
will be exactly. the same as that of the original full-cream milk. This is a 
remarkable doctrine in physiological chemistry, and upon this doctrine could be 
established the perfect wholesomeness of all synthetic foods. This will be 
strange doctrine to the makers of champagne. For instance, a still wine having 
practically the same composition as champagne, when artificially carbonated with 
the same quantity of carbonic acid which would be found in the natural 
champagne, is exactly the same substance as the article made naturally by 
fermentation in the bottle by the slow and tedious process employed. Every 
physician who prescribes champagne and every man who drinks it will without 
hesitation doubt this statement.
   Professor Kedzie testifies that he is not a physiological chemist and not a 
doctor of medicine. On the same page, however, he testifies that between 60 and 
100 grains, a large amount, a teaspoonful or a tablespoonful or something like 
that, would have an inflammatory action upon the stomach. When asked in regard 
to 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 to 
certain foods and introduced in catsup. Professor Kedzie has already testified 
that cranberries contain only five one-hundredths of 1 per cent of benzoic acid. 
The amount which he took daily he does not state, but it evidently must have 
been quite small in quantity, and, more than that, it was in the form in which 
the Author of Nature had placed it and not in an artificial or adulterated form. 
From this remarkable metabolic experiment Professor Kedzie says that he can 
testify from his own experience that benzoic acid is not harmful. I ask you, 
gentlemen, to consider in all seriousness expert testimony of that description 
and compare it with the elaborate trial and continued experimental work 
conducted in the Department of Agriculture on similar lines of inquiry which I 
have mentioned.
   I quote Professor Kedzie's experiments with boric acid and salicylic acid:
     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 the vinegar that 
you have just spoken of?
   MR. KEDZIE: I did not estimate the exact amount, but it was very 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 the cranberries?
   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 the fact of 
the wide distribution of benzoic acid, which no one denies.
   I also want to call the attention of the committee to Doctor Kedzie's expert 
testimony to the effect on his health, and ask you to compare the few samples of 
cranberries that he has eaten, and few samples of ketchups, with the careful 
determination which we have made. That is all. The rest is confirmatory of what 
Professor Kedzie says.
   I say here that I am sorry that Professor Kedzie did not submit his methods 
of examination; and I would like to incorporate in the minutes the methods which 
we have used so he can review our work if he desires.
   MR. EXCH: Do you know of any other analysts who have found benzoic acid in 
these fruits?
   DR. WILEY: No; I do not. I have never seen any results excepting these of 
Professor Kedzie and Professor Kremers.
   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 on that 
   DR. VAUGHAN'S thorough training and large experience and scientific methods 
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 his 
profession, is not allowed to prescribe benzoic acid until he has studied four 
years or longer in a medical college, received a diploma, and passed an 
examination before a State board of examiners, then surely no manufacturer 
without any education of a medical character, without ever having passed any 
examination, without having a single faculty of knowledge respecting the use of 
drugs, should be allowed to put any benzoic acid or any other drug of any kind 
in his foods. I think I might omit any mention of the rest of Dr. Vaughan's 
testimony with that simple statement of his, which covers the ground so 
absolutely and effectively.
   MR. TOWNSEND: He was testifying, was he not, as an expert who had 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 was 
not harmful. That is what he stated, is it not? He did not state that they 
should be allowed to use all that they saw fit; in fact, the trend of his whole 
examination was that this should be passed upon by a board of experts as to the 
amount that should be used. That was his conclusion.
   DR. WILEY: That is true. I only call attention to the basic proposition. He 
says in the beginning--I do not think it is unfair to quote Dr. Vaughan's words,
word for word.
   MR. BARTLETT: Oh, no, I did not say that; but people can take a Bible and 
prove by words and quotations from it that they are justified in believing that 
there is no God.
   MR. KENNEDY: A doctor would not be permitted to prescribe anything as a 
doctor until he had been licensed, but I can prescribe if I do not charge for 
it. I can advise the use of meats and other things to be eaten, and so on, with 
profit and 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 not give them 
away; and the doctor receives pay for his prescription.
   MR. ESCH: If a physician prescribed the amount which could be used without 
detriment, would it be dangerous to the manufacturer to use, that or a less 
   DR. WILEY: I think so.
   MR. ESCH: Provided you could be sure?
   DR. WILEY: Yes; because the physician prescribes constantly very poisonous 
substances. A drug and a food are quite different things. The physician 
prescribes after his training and after an examination of the patient. The 
manufacturer asks legal permission to use the same drug that the physician does 
in his practice and to put it in the foods with certain restrictions, which, of 
course, would be proper if he is permitted at all. But I want to contrast the 
difference in the position of the trained man who uses a drug and the untrained 
man who uses a drug. I think it is perfectly fair, Mr. Chairman, to call the 
attention of the committee to that important distinction.
   MR. MANN: There is no difference of opinion between you and Doctor Vaughan on 
that subject, as I understand his testimony; you both agreed.
   DR. WILEY: We agreed in almost every particular. I indorse almost every word 
he said to this committee, absolutely.
   THE CHAIRMAN: Dr. Vaughan's statement, you will remember, was made after a 
manufacturer had testified that he put 6 ounces of benzoic acid in powder in a 
barrel of catsup and trusted to oscillations from the ordinary movement of that 
as freight to distribute it.
   DR. WILEY: Yes, Sir.
   MR. CUSHMAN: As I understand your position, then, you agree with Dr. 
Vaughan's statement on technical points, but disagree with his conclusions?
   DR. WILEY: Yes; I don't think they are logical in those particular instances. 
I think all of his statements and his facts are without question so far as his 
examinations have gone.
   MR. BARTLETT: Do you agree with him that each one of us, in eating our daily 
food, consumes from 1 to 10 grains of benzoic acid? That is one statement 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 acid that may be 
formed by metabolic activity. We surely do not eat ten grains a day in ordinary 
foods, or even one. It is only in rare cases that you would eat one grain a day.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Where does it come from if his conclusion is correct that it is 
in the system?
   DR. WILEY: It is claimed by some physiologists that the benzol ring that I 
showed you yesterday--the product of destructive metabolism--that small 
quantities of the benzol radical might be formed in the system or unite with 
glycocol and 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 prescribe a 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 patent 
medicines, without medical education and medical training and without studying 
the character of the condition of the patient to which it is to be given? I 
really do not believe that any claim of that kind would meet with a single vote 
of this committee or on the floor of the American Congress. And yet Dr. Vaughan, 
after having laid down a principle of ethics, broad, comprehensive, and 
indestructible, immediately proceeds 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 allowed to 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 his extensive 
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 else 
to be able to reach one? And, in view of that fact, can Dr. Vaughan or any other 
man logically come before your committee and ask to be allowed the use of a 
definite amount of certain medicines of the highest value, of which Dr. Vaughan 
himself says he does not know what quantity can be used, and which can not be 
used by a physician in 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 acid in the quantities in which it 
is used in catsup, :sweet pickles, ete.--1 part to 1,200 or 2,000--does not do 
any harm. He immediately says: "I should be opposed to the use of formaldehyde 
in milk in any quantity, or the use of any other preservatives in 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 against the use of 
sulphite of soda on hamburger steaks. I am thoroughly in sympathy with the 
Hepburn bill." I desire the particular attention of the committee to this part 
of the testimony. Dr. Vaughan has said that a physician should only prescribe 
benzoic acid after training and license. He then says that he himself, with all 
his vast experience, has not reached any conclusion in the matter. He next says 
that he believes that the quantity used in tomato catsup does no harm. Then he 
says he is opposed to its use in milk in any quantity. I should think a jury 
would be somewhat confused by expert testimony of this kind. I believe, with Dr. 
Vaughan, that a physician should not be allowed to prescribe benzoic acid until 
he has shown the necessary qualifications. I believe, with Dr. Vaughan, that no 
preservative of any kind should be used in milk. I agree With him,--that 
sulphite of soda, should not be used on hamburger steaks--three points on which 
we agree. I agree with Dr. Vaughan that I have not yet reached any conclusion as 
to the minimum quantities of benzoic acid which are harmless. Four points, 
logical, sequential, and on which perfect agreement is certain. Just what there 
is in tomato catsup which should except it from the logical sequence I beg some 
one to enlighten me.
   It is impossible for me in any way to discover it. Dr. Vaughan states that 
nobody but a bacteriologist can decide how much of a preservative must be used 
to preserve a food, and therefore objects to the results of the experiments 
authorized by Congress. I beg to state to the committee that Congress never 
authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to determine how much preservative was 
necessary to preserve 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 is a question of physiological chemistry and 
pharmacology only, and it has been answered solely by the methods of those 
   I will explain in full these methods when I speak of the effect of borax. Dr. 
Vaughan states that the experiments with borax did not prove that it was 
injurious in small quantities, and when asked what he meant by small quantities 
he 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 acid 
which we used and which produced most disturbing effects upon the health was far 
less than one-half of 1 per cent of the weight of the food used. Dr. Vaughan's 
statement in this respect is hardly the statement of an expert. It is his 
opinion of another expert'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 subject of 
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 
authority of Congress, be able to call experts on these subjects who shall be 
able to help him to a just decision. All the Secretary of Agriculture has done 
so far is to determine the effect of preservatives, coloring matters, and added 
substances to foods upon health and digestion. These experiments have been 
conducted in the manner which I shall soon relate to you.
   No board of experts could come in and help another expert decide what 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 what the 
result of one of his own experiments was. He, being a man of judgment and tact 
and knowledge, alone can decide what his own experiments have taught him, and 
then when he submits the data on which his judgment is based the board of 
experts can come in and criticize the data and reach another conclusion. The 
data on borax, which was used in the experiments which I will soon describe, are 
here before you. Every fact 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 months on twelve young men, is set forth in 
detail. Dr. Vaughan did not attack a single fact nor deny its accuracy in all 
this mass of material, and then, without doing this, 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 reading my 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 opportune 
moment a synopsis of the results of the work which has been accomplished under 
authority of Congress in feeding borax and boric acid to. young men in splendid 
health and to place before you the proof of the deletrious effects which even 
small quantities--far less than one-half of 1 per cent-produce. I will 
supplement this also by a similar statement from the chemists and physiologists 
of the imperial board of health at Berlin, which fully confirms in every 
particular every conclusion reached by my own experiments, and candidly ask the 
consideration of this committee of these two reports.
   Now, that shows how close our agreement is, as I have already stated to the 
committee, and I would like to repeat it here: That if benzoic acid is harmful 
in milk, and Dr. Vaughan admits it, in any proportion, there is no logical 
reason 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 that it was placed there to correct some other and a greater evil, and 
on that ground alone 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 food on 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 wanted to insist upon.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Have you changed your mind on that subject in the last few 
   DR. WILEY: Yes, sir; very materially. I formerly believed that certain 
preservatives could be used, as Dr. Vaughan believes now, simply by having its 
presence mentioned on the label. I was strongly convinced of the truth of that 
proposition. I have, before committees in Congress and in public addresses, 
stated those sentiments. I was converted by my own investigations, Mr. Chairman, 
and by nobody else's in this matter. My former opinion was based upon the weight 
of expert testimony. I read the opinions of men that I respected, and the weight 
of that opinion was in favor of the position which I have just stated. I 
inclined to that view. And I will state that Dr. Vaughan's association with me 
was one of the things that led me largely to adopt that view.
   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 German magazine in 
January?" As I have been pretty busy in the last few weeks, I had not 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 evidence 
so that you can read it. Professor Liebreich I know very well. He is a personal 
friend of mine, a very eminent gentleman, and it is fair to say that he is 
employed by the borax syndicate; but I don't think -that impugns his testimony 
at all, and I accept his criticism as if he had been employed by the German 
Government. One of those is the original report of the imperial board of health 
and the other the reply to a criticism 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 Pennsylvania on behalf of borax and sulphite of 
soda, which Professor Vaughan condemns--he would not allow it used in any 
   Professor Liebreich appeared before the court in Philadelphia in the case 
where the hamburger-steak people who had been treating hamburger steak with 
sulphite of soda were made defendants; and he testified that in his opinion 
almost any quantity of sulphite of soda could be used with impunity in meat; and 
the court asked him, "Professor Liebreich, do you use it in your meats at your 
home I" And he said: "No; I do not." "Would you use it if you wanted to?" was 
asked; and he replied, "I don't want to," and his whole testimony fell just on 
that. I was told--I don't know just how true it was-that he received $4,000 for 
coming over here. One of our young men, who was not nearly so famous as 
Professor Liebreich, went over to Philadelphia and testified before the same 
court, and on his testimony the judge and jury found against the testimony of 
Professor Liebreich, whose criticism of my report I will submit as soon as it is 
ready. That shows that Liebreich and Vaughan agree on borax. Vaughan and Wiley 
agree on sulphite, and I differ from both of them on the borax question, and 
they differ from each other on the sulphite.
   That shows the conflict in opinions which you gentlemen are called upon to 
consider. It is something confusing, but of course you have to rely upon the 
character of the data after all. If you find that the data which I present are 
not reliable, have not been obtained in a proper way, my opinion is worth very 
little, 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 told 
you yesterday could be done.
   MR. RYAN: Do you believe a Congressionaf committee, none of whom are 
chemists, are competent to judge between those opinions of eminent chemists who 
have formed those opinions after having analyzed the food?
   DR. WILEY: I think they are absolutely competent, just as a jury would be 
upon the same thing in the weighing of evidence.
   You see the evidence as the weigher of evidence, and not as experts. You see 
it as a jury. I think this committee is absolutely competent to decide a 
question of that kind on the evidence submitted here.
   MR. BARTLETT: We have a good many bills before us, and there is where this 
question must come before the court and the jury.
   DR. WILEY: That is true so far as the Hepburn bill is concerned somebody must 
render an opinion before you can bring an indictment, and then that opinion 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 else 
which any expert might set up.
   MR. BARTLETT: You will find one court and a jury deciding that a 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 on trial for not 
permitting a certain statement, might acquit one man and convict another.
   DR. WILEY: Exactly, and you will find when I submit the evidence from the 
English courts that that very thing happens all the time. You must leave it 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 the use 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 never found an 
   MR. MANN: Before you pass from the subject of borax, I would like to have 
your statement in reference to the use of borax under the provision of the bill, 
which in the Hepburn bill was removed by maceration.
   DR. WILEY: I heartily approve of that provision in regard to preservatives of 
food products intended for export. I have a little article that I am going to 
submit on that, Mr. Mann, in better form. There is a chart here (in Bulletin 84) 
showing by the position of the lines, the loss of weight which these young men 
suffered. I don't think it is a very serious matter if a man loses a couple of 
pounds in weight.
   MR. TOWNSEND: You found some of them were gaining weight, as I 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 preservative period.
   MR. TOWNSEND: Didn't you state that you had to watch them closely to 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. very helpful to you 
gentlemen. You have heard a great deal about the finding of the English 
departmental committee. I want simply to quote the evidence of Professor W. D. 
Halliburton, who is the most distinguished physiologist of the English-speaking 
people. Professor Vaughan would be very glad to tell you the same thing. He came 
over here last year and gave a series of lectures. His work is a textbook on 
chemical physiology and pathology. I want to read you just one or two things, 
which you might not read, that I have extracted from his testimony.
   The English committee forbade the use of preservatives in certain food 
products, and recommended that a limited quantity, which they mentioned, should 
be permitted in other food products. While that has never been made a law by act 
of 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 acid to the pound, they do not convict a defendant. But they 
convict any defendant who puts preservatives in milk of any kind. The evidence 
of Professor W. D. Halliburton is as follows--that part which I wish to 
read--and it can be verified if anybody wishes 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 opinion of a man whose 
fame is far greater even than that of Dr. Vaughan. I believe that every person 
acquainted with medical and physiological literature in the United States will 
say that Professor Halliburton is the greatest living exponent of physiological 
chemistry in English-speaking countries. Could there be a more sweeping 
indictment brought against these preservatives than Professor Halliburton has 
stated? He says of borax and boric acid that the chief advantage of these 
poisonous bodies is that they are rapidly eliminated from the system, and he 
further states that the continual passage 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 advises this committee to permit the use of 
boric acid in foods in quantities not to exceed one-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 the use of 
     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 people into your confidence 
and your business will be placed upon a foundation from which it can not be 
shaken nor removed." I say, as a plain business proposition, that the men who 
put preservatives in foods had better stop it for their good and for the 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 this 
matter, 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, not only 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 your action is I shall heartily support, with 
what little influence I have, any measure which you bring forth, to have it 
enacted into law. [Applause.]
   Congress enacted a law conferring plenary power on the Secretary of 
Agriculture to exclude adulterated and misbranded foreign articles from 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 to send boraxed 
sausages to this country. They were making them and sending them to this country 
when they were not permitted in their own country; but our law says that 
anything that is forbidden in any country can not be sent from that country 
here, 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 anything into this 
country from Germany or France that contains salicylic acid because that is 
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 such a 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 whether he tells the 
truth or not as to what he is going to do with it. I do not think that this firm 
in this case would have done anything but what they said,. because they are most 
reputable and honorable men; but suppose some other person had done it?
   MR. MANN: If this provision in the Hepburn bill had been in the 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 paragraph where I have 
spoken about that. I think it is a very unfortunate thing that we are required 
to go into a man's kitchen and supervise his cooking, and I think that when you 
come to look into that thing you will find it would be the one unconstitutional 
thing in it, because it is a pure police regulation, which is solely committed 
to the States.
   MR. TOWNSEND: In what bill is that?
   DR. WILEY: The Hepburn bill--the clause which says that the thing must be 
judged when it is fit for consumption. Now, the preparation of a food for 
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 goods to 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 not frightened 
about that clause of the bill at all. That is just a little principle of ethics 
and constitutionality. Not being much of a constitutional lawyer I only suggest 
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 not be afraid to 
eat a piece of corned beef, because the amount of injury would be immeasurably 
small. Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that it should not be used in 
corned beef. I would be sorry to see it left out. But if you put it on the 
principle of harmlessness, it could not go in. And that reminds me that I did 
not show you the thing which is most indicative of my argument. I am glad you 
mentioned that just now. I want that chart that was made this morning. A little 
graphic representation of an argument sometimes helps a great deal.
   The suggestion has been repeatedly made here that because food was injurious 
we should legislate against it. Now, I have drawn here my argument in a graphic 
form. This is a graphic chart showing the comparative influence of foods and 
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 health is nothing. 
We do not need it at all. Now, imagine that the lethal dose of a drug--that is, 
the dose that will kill--is 100; and then we go to work and measure at three 
points--at 75, at 50, and at 25. There are points at which we can measure. We 
can not measure up toward the right there, because the line almost coincides 
with the basic line, and the deviation is so slight that no method of 
measurement that we know of could distinguish them.
   Then, if we use a little drug I can measure it here. I can measure it again 
here [indicating], and I can measure it again here [indicating]. Now from those 
three points I can construct a curve and calculate the lethal dose, which we 
will 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 mathematically from 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 
be at an infinitely small distance from zero. You have doubtless, an of you, 
studied calculus, and you know how you can integrate a vanishing function. I 
used to know a good deal about calculus myself, and I could by integral calculus 
tell you the injurious power of a drug at an infinitely small distance from 
zero--that is, an infinitely 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? You are 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 mathematically 
plat the point where he will die.
   That one chart shows to this committee in a graphic form, better than any 
argument could, the position of a drug in a food as compared with the food 
itself. They are diametrically opposite. The lethal dose of one is the normal 
dose of the other, and vice versa. Therefore the argument de minimis as far as 
harmlessness is concerned is a wholly illogical and unmathematical argument, and 
can be demonstrated by calculus to be so.
   When the committee went into executive session to put this bill into its 
final shape, I was asked to sit with them. This is as near to being a member of 
Congress as I ever reached.
   Thus ended the struggle for legislation controlling interstate commerce in 
foods and drugs. It had been going on nearly a quarter of a 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 the 
state authorities were keenly alive to the importance of national legislation. 
They felt that without some rallying point their own efforts in individual 
states would be lacking in completeness. The state officials who were most 
active in this crusade were Ladd of North Dakota, Sheppard of South Dakota, 
Emery of Wisconsin, Bird of Michigan, Abbott of Texas, Frear of Pennsylvania, 
Barnard of Indiana, Hortvet of Minnesota, Allen of Kentucky, and Allen of North 
Carolina. Many other food officials were interested and helpful, but these were 
the outstanding members of the state food commissioners who took the most active 
part in the matter. All the great organized bodies interested in the health of 
the people, namely, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health 
Association, together with the Patrons of Husbandry, and the Federated Labor 
organizations of the country were actively engaged in promoting this measure. 
Perhaps the greatest and most forceful were the Federated Women's Clubs of 
America and the Consumers League, They took up the program with enthusiasm and 
great vigor. Two of the leaders of this movement were Mrs. Walter McNab Miller, 
representing the Federated Women's Clubs, and Miss Alice Lakey, representing the 
Consumers League. Their services were extremely valuable.

Militant Food Administrator of North Dakota, at Denver Convention

Representing Federated Women's Clubs

Representing the Consumers' League
   Finally the movement received the approval of President Roosevelt in a 
one-line sentence in his message to Congress at the opening of the fifty-ninth 
Congress in December, 1905. The stage was set for action. The force of the 
movement had passed beyond all restraining influences. The opposition of the 
vested interests had lost all momentum. Victory was in the air. People talked 
about the food bill on the streets, discussed it in clubs, passed resolutions in 
favor of it in their meetings. It was evident the day of success so long looked 
for and so eagerly awaited was at hand. It remained only for the Congress of the 
United States to compose the differences between the Senate and the House bills 
and put the final touches on legislation. It was a foregone conclusion that a 
measure so popular and so universally acclaimed would receive without hesitation 
the approval of 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 June 30, 1906.


Dr. Andrew Saul

AN IMPORTANT NOTE:  This page is not in any way offered as prescription, diagnosis nor treatment for any disease, illness, infirmity or physical condition.  Any form of self-treatment or alternative health program necessarily must involve an individual's acceptance of some risk, and no one should assume otherwise.  Persons needing medical care should obtain it from a physician.  Consult your doctor before making any health decision. 

Neither the author nor the webmaster has authorized the use of their names or the use of any material contained within in connection with the sale, promotion or advertising of any product or apparatus. Single-copy reproduction for individual, non-commercial use is permitted providing no alterations of content are made, and credit is given.

| Home | Order my Books | About the Author | Contact Us | Webmaster |