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PROFESSOR KEDZIE'S TESTIMONY




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 that.

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.







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