The Fort Dodge Messenger: Nov. 13, 1906
Pure Food Law Working in Fort Dodge
Good Labeled New Way Are Already on the Shelves of Fort Dodge Grocers
The pure food law is already working in Fort Dodge. A visit to a half dozen grocery stores will plainly show this. The goods labelled so as to show plainly just what ingredients are contained are coming in daily and are slowly taking the places on the shelves of the old style ones where adulteration was not shown.
The grocers are allowed until July 1st, 1906, to dispose of whatever unbranded foods they have on their shelves and all are now working them off as fast as possible and buying the new kinds. It has been supposed by many that when the pure food law went into rigid enforcement there would be no adulterated stuff on the market. This idea is erroneous. The same kinds of goods will be for sale, but they will be plainly labeled so that the buyer will know just what they are composed of. There will be just as much adulterated stuff on the market but the purchaser will not be forced to suppose that it is pure. For instance, where the Fort Dodge housewife has gone down to the grocery store and bought pepper put up in a neat box and marked “pure pepper,” and taken it home in contentment, now she will buy the same kind but the box will be marked “Pepper mixed with cornmeal, colored.”
A Messenger reporter made the rounds of a few grocery stores this morning. The same story was told in all. Yes, the pure food law is already commencing to work here. It is not in full blast but we are getting the new labelled goods on hand in place of the old as fast as possible. All of the jobbers are sending us the goods marked so that what they are composed of is plainly seen.
“See here,” said one man, white aproned and with pencil behind ear and order book in hand as he whisked around back of some shelving. “This the brand of sorghum that used to be marked in bold letters ‘Pure sorghum.’ The manufacturers of it have stepped down off their high horse a bit for now you will notice is it marked just plain ‘Sorghum,’ and in this little red lettered notice down here it says, 90 per cent sorghum, 10 per cent grape sugar. Here is a flaring adulteration in the line of catsup and I don’t think we will handle this brand much longer. It used to be marked ‘Pure Tomato Catsup.’ Now there is a big formula and this is the way it reads: ‘This catsup is made of tomatoes, sugar, salt, cloves, allspice, cayenne pepper, onions and one tenth of one per cent of benzoate of soda.’ Another catsup admits on the label that it is made of turnips artificially colored together with the usual spices and still another claims to be absolutely pure except for a small portion of benzoate of soda to prevent fermenting. In the maple sugar line there have been some big changes and we only have one brand in the store that is marked pure. All the others have explanations showing how the stuff is adulterated. Now here is a can that used to be marked, ‘Pure Maple Syrup.’ They don’t even dare to claim that it is maple syrup now and the label says ‘Old fashioned syrup, made from cane and maple sugars,’ and that’s just the way it goes all through. The cans that used to be marked ‘pure leaf lard,’ now admit that their contents are only about half lard., tea, coffee, preserves, spices, etc. All are shown up before the people and the results are, in many cases, surprising. The result will be that a lot of these brands that are the worst adulterated will soon go off the market and the manufacturers will quit making them. Foods that are adulterated in a small way will probably continue to sell just as well as before.”
Whatever else it may do, the enforcement of the pure food law will necessitate a liberal expenditure of lithographers’ and printers’ ink in labeling new packages put out by the manufacturers. Where goods are shipped the length and breadth of the country, they come under federal jurisdiction, and the complexion of the billboards and other display spaces advertising them will undergo a decided change. The redecoration may even extend to the delivery carts, for the reason that designs used on the labels become in time such a trade mark as to be repeated in fac simile where ever the company’s “ad” is displayed. The label must give us the true contents of the package, the name of the manufacturer and the true name of the place of manufacture.
Many of the familiar signs and figures which greet the eye in public places will disappear. But the pure food law is not to abolish display advertising. New types, new designs, new colors will take the place of old favorites. The rush for publicity will be greater than ever. Those manufacturers whose products were up to requirements will give due prominence to the fact and the less fortunate, once their shortcomings are remedied, will be equally zealous in proclaiming the purity of their goods.
Food products will no longer be sold for what they are not. The regulations provide that no picture design or device which gives any false indications of origin or quality shall be used upon any label. For example, the picture of a pig will not ‘go’ and a label if placed upon packages containing beef products and the likeness of a chicken is equally obnoxious to the government if place upon cans containing veal or pork. Geographical names may be used only with the words “cut,” “brand,” “type,” or “style,” as the case may be, except upon foods manufactured in the place, state, territory or county named. For instance, ham not produced in New York is not “New York ham” and may only be labeled “New York style.” Bologna sausage does not necessarily come from abroad and hereafter it must be labeled “Bologna style sausage.” Whisky is not whisky unless it is the straight undiluted article and Boston Baked beans as now advertised need not necessarily have ever been in Boston. Indeed, most of them are never baked but are cooked or boiled. Cod, if the experts are to be believed, is not cod at all, it might be hake, haddock or cusk.
Creamless Ice Cream.
Ice cream is not longer a strictly dairy product. It is now rather a kitchen dish and classified with puddings. Of course there are all kinds of ice cream but the truly commercial product contains very little cream at all, and is made largely of corn starch, gelatine and flavoring extracts. As such it is lacking by several per cent in the fats required by the government. Patent medicines are classified under “pure foods” so far as those that contain either alcohol, opium or cocaine, unless the same is indicated on the label, in long primer *aps (first letter unreadable, I couldn’t guess what is should be) are not meeting the requirements. No matter how much artists and architects imitate the old masters any medicine manufacturer who attempts to imitate the master work of some nostrum concoctor is perpetuating a fraud. The manufacturer must be perfectly frank, make his ingredients public and reveal trade secrets, if necessary.
It has been proved beyond question that adulterations exist; also, that they are frauds on the pocketbook rather than on the public health. Force by competition, the manufacturer has cheapened the foods while not making them injurious. To do this he sought the chemist’s aid, and he is not dependent upon the chemist to get the goods back to government specifications.
No matter how good the intentions of the manufacturer, his product is always liable to some changes of which he knows nothing. Be they small or great they are serious, and under the law become adulterations. To prevent them he is dependent on the chemist. By periodical tests and examinations the chemist keeps the manufacturer informed as to the standard of his goods and holds him to the legal requirements. These variations in quality may be occasioned by flaws in the raw material. Foreign substances may enter into the composition. Carelessness on the part of an employer may allow grave discrepancies in the recipe. The chemist, therefore, is the only check the manufacturer has to protect himself and the consumer.
Just what the requirements will finally be in many of the foods is not yet known. The commission has been holding a last hearing this week, and from factories, laboratories and law offices experts have been hurrying to Washington to get in a word for some particular classification.
There is a long list of the most common adulterated foods in the custody of the government experts, and strange as it may seem, many of these artificial products are deemed just as good for public consumption as the real article. Under the strict interpretation of the law, however, they are violations and such must be rectified.
A Few Adulterations.
The government standard for lard is rendered fat from slaughtered, healthy hogs and leaf lard is that particular fat taken from the inner lining of the abdomen. Both have to pass certain tests for fats and acids and – unnecessary to say – one may now buy lard put up in pails that was never near a hog. Milk and its products are very easily adulterated, and despite the municipal inspection now being made all over the country this article of common consumption is the most tampered with, and sold for below standard. Maple syrup, the highly-prized product, from the sap of the tree, is very scarce and dear some years. Manufacturers get around this, however, by grinding raw sugar cane and flavoring the extract with hickory bark. Maple syrup is adulterated by the use of glucose syrup, as is molasses.
Even honey is not beyond duplication. It is said that a preparation has been made and sold for honey that never had any bee medication in it, the comb being made of paraffine (sic) and the cells filled with a fluid substance made from glucose. This statement, however, has been challenged by the bee industry and branded as a lie. But the government chemists claim that they have proof of their assertion.
Ground spice has been offered for sale which was little more than a mixture of ground nutshells and flour with lamp black for coloring matter. Of course, some spice entered into this composition to give taste, but very little. Such has been the advancement in synthetic products that many flavoring extracts are artificially made. Cottonseed and sesame oils make a clever substitution for olive oil, although they are not called by that name. They are known as salad oils and although the trade knows the difference the average consumer does not and buys that article for true oil.
Tea and Coffee Adulterated.
There has been a strict government regulation on tea, but this stimulant has been religiously adulterated for years with leaves of other plants and spent tea leaves. To increase bulk coffee is adulterated with chickory (sic). Not very long ago some ingenious imitator got out an artificial bean made with a mixture of cereals, sweepings, flavoring material and clay. The bean was a perfect counterfeit so far as looks went and was strong enough to stand a hot roasting. chocolate is adulterated with flour, some manufacturers declaring that flour is absolutely essential to making chocolate palatable, just the same as it is to complete chicken a la fricasee.
Wines are adulterated and fortified by adding spirits. A preservative is also used and some whine has no fruit juice in it at all, being a mixture of spirits, flavoring extracts, and alcohol. Vinegar is another product commonly adulterated. A mineral acid is used for this, also an acetic acid, distilled from wool and some vinegar is stretched by use of water. In some parts of the country, a glucose solution is sold for cider or wine vinegar.
Makers of recognized pure food products have little to fear either from the new regulations or the publicity attracted by the recent agitation and the framing of the new law. The great majority of manufacturers in fact, pay little attention to the act on this score. What annoys them most is that in many cases they must print their recipes on the labels and reveal trade secrets to their competitors.
An Uncalled for Objection.
The protest made by some of the manufacturers of candy against the provision of the pure food laws which forbids the employment of aniline dyes in the making of sweets, seems to be uncalled for, though it is claimed that the sale of candy will be seriously affected if it is enforced. We do not think that the absence of bright colors will prevent children from buying confectionery, but at any rate they should not be poisoned in partaking of sweetmeats.
The love of the little ones for the taste of candy is greater than their admiration of rainbow hues, and in a little while they would get used to the new order of things, and buy as readily as they did before legislative means were taken to protect them from unhealthful productions.
It is true that colored confectionery is attractive to the eye. So is paint anywhere when it is tastefully applied, but that is no reason why we should eat it. The confectioners can save money by not using aniline dyes, and thus be able to save money which they can devote to the making of better and more wholesome sweets.