I therefore hold that vendors of foods containing boracic acid compounds commit offences under the 3rd and the 6th Sections of the Act of 1875, and the 2nd Section of the Amended Act of 1879. Whether offences under the Act, however, are committed or not, I do not tee how it is possible to arrive at any other conclusion but that the use of these preservatives is a serious form of adulteration. In my view, the absolute prohibition of their use is the only safe and proper course to take; although if it be desired to throw a sop to that large class of persons who are always morbidly anxious to follow middle courses, it may be admitted that the compulsory labelling of such "preserved " articles with the name of the substance or substances used, would be productive of great and immediate benefit. It is remarkable that those who defend the use of " preservatives," and assert them all to be "harmless," in any amount, should take such pains to conceal the fact that they have been used. In regard to several proprietary articles I have examined; I have had before me, apparently, the full details of the manufacture, given with the most child-like candour; everything, except the admixture of boracic acid, which was found in them all.

In the case of certain "preserved" creams, it is asserted on the labels that " the cream being separated as soon as it is drawn from the cow, it will keep sweet longer." Comment upon this it needless.

Abroad, the use of " preservatives" is almost universally prohibited. If the legislature and if local authorities were in earnest about the suppression of adulteration, their use would be prohibited here. (E. E. Cassal, in Analyst.)

Use Of Preservatives

It is well known that in summer many milk dealers add some preparation of boric acid in order to retard coagulation of milk. Such preparations are, and have been, openly advertised in numerous forms, and have been recommended by scientific men. Less well known is the fact that boric acid and its soda salt is most frequently to be met with in butter, especially Normandy and Belgian butters. Norwegian and other foreign fish is cured with salt and boric acid; meat is preserved with it, and it is even found in preparations intended for invalids, such as in so-called sterilised peptones.

In beer, especially foreign imported beer, in wines, preserved fruit, and, perhaps, in milk, salicylic acid or salicylate has been used for preservation, whilst sulphurous acid or bisulphite of lime is of common use by the brewer, the manufacturer of lime juice, and the butcher. And, lastly, it appears that benzoic acid or benzoates are gradually taking the place of salicylic acid. Other antiseptics have been from time to time proposed and used, such as fluosilicates, nitrates, etc.

In reference to the quantity of boric acid which is necessary to produce any appreciable effect upon milk, I am not aware of any analytical results obtained by the analysis of actual trade samples. Mattern finds that 1 grm. boric acid per litre retards the coagulation of milk at 15° C. for 24 - 36 hours; -5 grm. only 21 hours, whilst at 35° G. '5 grm. is without effect, and 1 grm. retards the coagulation for 10 hours. In summer, therefore, when the addition of boric acid is practised, not much less than 1 grm. per litre of milk would probably be employed.

Of borated butters I have made numerous analyses, and give some of my results in percentages: -

Boric acid .09 .11 .09 .14 .26 .41 Borax .19 .16 .15 .23 .33 .55

Both boric acid and borax being calculated as crystallised. The preparation always employed in the case of butter, as far. as my experience goes, consists of a mixture of boric acid or borax, in widely varying proportions, freed from a part of the water of crystallisation by heating. As typical the following analysis may find a place: -

Water.... 36.8

Borax (anhydrous) .. 24.0 Boric acid (anhydrous) 39.2

To preserve fresh fish about 2 grm. of boric acid are used to each kilo of fish.

Salicylic acid has not, I believe, ever been largely used in this country as a food preserver. It answers but very badly in the case of milk and butter, and its use is now chiefly confined to foreign fermented beverages. As to the quantity, 1 grm. per litre was frequently used when salicylic acid had reached its height of popularity. When in course of time the objections against its use were not only heard, but resulted in prohibitive legislation in many countries, 5 grm. were declared to be sufficient by its advocates to keep 100 litres of Bavarian beer for home consumption, and 20 grm. for export.

If we now enter into the question as to the physiological effect of the preservatives mentioned, we at once meet with the most diametrically expressed opinions. Whilst inventors introduce every antiseptic as absolutely harmless, and quote experiments by which it is shown that large and continued doses of antiseptic were administered without evil effects, other enquirers come to absolutely different conclusions. Literature teems with arguments in favour of and against some of these substances, and it must be conceded that direct and palpably injurious effects on healthy individuals have not been traced to any of the antiseptics herein considered. But when so much is conceded, a wide field for discussion yet remains.

On the one hand it must be recognised that to prevent waste of good human food by avoiding or retarding its decomposition is a meritorious achievement, and one upon which the thought of the scientific man cannot be too much concentrated. Yet it must be allowed that the indiscriminate addition of chemical substances which exert a poisonous action on bacterial and other organisms cannot be safely left in the hands of more or less ignorant vendors of articles of food, even if no directly poisonous or injurious action can be traced upon a healthy adult by their use. It is evident that substances which interfere with the growth of fungoid organisms like bacteria or yeast cells, must have some action upon the complicated human animal; and even if exuberant health and abundant gastric secretions may be capable many times to overwhelm the effect of the antiseptic, the effect itself must remain and detract from the efficiency of the human organism. It is inconceivable that the protoplasm of a bacteria be vitally affected by a substance which at the same time be utterly inert upon human protoplasm. The effect is evidently a question of quantity.