Much has been written upon the subject of adulteration. Somebody (whose name we forget) took up the subject prior to Dr. Hassall; Dr. Hassall wrote a series of papers in the Lancet; these brought about a parliamentary inquiry; the inquiry ended in demonstrating that nearly everything we eat and drink is adulterated - in many cases with ingredients very prejudicial to human health. Somebody has written a little book to inform people "How to detect adulterations in our daily food and drink" and there is room tor some one to write a key to the said littte book, entitled "How to understand the instructions 'How to Detect Adultera turn in our Daily Food and Drink' " -for, although the advertisement of the book says that it gives instructions for the employment of "simple means" of detection, the means suggested are in most cases highly impracticable, and in some instances dangerous. Thus the housewife, who sets about the discovery of some supposed evil, may, by an error or accident - the upsetting of a bottle of sulphuric acid, or the explosion of a receiver of gas - do herself more injury in an hour than she would suffer from adulteration in a life-time.

2388. Impracticable Modes Of Detection

The writer alluded to states that, to discover the adulterations in arrowroot, you are to "mix it with twice its weight of concentrated muriatic acid." To discover adulterations in flour, you are to "take of the suspected flour about 350 grains, and the same quantity of fine sand, and two and a-half fluid ounces of water -, triturate in a mortar the sand and flour for five minutes, then gradually add a little of the water, so as to dilute it evenly, and form a homogeneous paste; throw the whole upon a filter, and take about one ounce of the clear liquid, place it in a test-glass, and add the same quantity of an aqueous solution of iodine." The author remarks, that this method is tedious, and far from satisfactory. So we think. He then gives another: - "If chalk be suspected, place a tea-spoonful of flour in a wine-glass, with a little water, and add a few drops of muriatic acid. If chalk be present, a brisk effervescence will ensue, owing to the escape of carbonic acid [it should be - carbonic acid gas.] Lime may be detected in a similar way -using oxalate of ammonia, instead of muriatic acid. The lime will form an insoluble precipitate, which is oxalate of lime!" Then, to detect the presence of bone-dust, you are told to burn a portion of the suspected flour, and "if a portion of the ash dissolved in water give, with nitrate of silver, an abundani precipitate, phosphate of lime is present. The test of oxalate of ammonia may be used to detect lime in the ash, as already advised for its detection in flour!" This is the character of by far the greater number of these "simple" instructions; and, to crown the whole, to enable you to detect adulteration in bottled, cured, and potted anchovies, with their heads decapitated, and their entrails removed, you are favoured with Mr. Yarrell's pen-and-ink portrait of the fish, when in a living, or at least, a fresh and whole condition! Among other adulterations we therefore discover the adulteration of books, by the introduction of matter to give an appearance of learning to their pages, and of no possible use to the buyer, who is compelled to pay sixpence for what he ought to obtain at one sixth that cost.