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TESTIMONY OF PROFESSOR KREMERS
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: No.
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.