Press Bulletin No. 48.
Adulterated Drugs and Chemicals.
By A. W. BLAIR.
A recent bulletin* issued by. the United States De-
partment of Agriculture, under the above title, discusses
some of the methods by which the quality of drugs and
chemicals may be impaired; cites examples taken from
actual practice; and calls the attention of the pharma-
ceutical and chemical world to the various forms of
The subject of adulteration is treated as follows:
"(1) Conventional, to suit the tastes and demands of the
public; (2) accidental or incidental, arising from envi-
ronment, carelessness or incompetence on the part of the
producer or manufacturer or his agents; (8) arbitrary, to
comply with or to take advantage of certain fixed, arbi-
Bureau of Chemistry -- Bulletin No. 80.
April 1st, 1904.-
*trary standards; and (4) intentional, for gainful pur-
poses and competition.
As examples of conventional adulteration, may be
mentioned bleached ginger, silvered cochineal, and the
artificial coloring of many preparations which are famil-
iar to the general public, such as elixirs, tinctures,
syrups, pills and tablets. We are accustomed to associ-
ate strength with color, and in many instances the col-
ored preparations are demanded to the exclusion of the
genuine article. The demand for colored butter may be
mentioned as an example in connection with the adulter-
ation of human foods. So long as harmless vegetable
. colors were used, there was little cause for anxiety, but
since analine dyes have come into such general use, there
is often danger lurking in what seems to be an attractive
physical appearance. To quote the bulletin mentioned:
" The physical appearance of these conventionally adul-
terated articles has secured such a firm footing in the
public mind that it is almost impossible to replace them
by pure goods. To eradicate these deeply-inculcated,
erroneous ideas will require years of patient effort by way
of both exposure and education."
Accidental adulterations are much more widespread,
and it is often difficult to say where this form ends and
the fraudulent begins. Crude drugs often contain from
S15% to 25% of stems, twigs, foreign leaves, dirt and other
impurities, and while it would be too much to expect them
to be entirely free from such impurities, yet such large
quantities of foreign matter should not be permitted.
The fact that these drugs may have been collected by
ignorant people does not relieve the dealer or the manu-
facturer from his responsibility to the public. The
author of the above-mentioned bulletin reports chima-
philla leaves contaiining 25% of stems and jaborandi
leaves containing not less than 16% of twigs and stems.
Drugs are often inferior from having deteriorated
through-age, and the practice of knowingly using such
deteriorated drugs is most reprehensible, since when pow-
dered and mixed with goods of prime quality it is very
difficult to detect them. A sample of cinnamon bark is
reported, 100 lbs. of which gave only enough oil when
distilled to impart a distinct flavor of cinnamon to five
gallons of aqueous distillate. Drugs containing essential
oils, such as cinnamon bark, clove buds, peppermint herb,
etc., are especially susceptible to change due to time.
We may pass over adulterations resulting from arbi-
trary standards as being more of a. technical nature, and
take up intentional adulterations. If there is any excuse
for the forms of adulteration already mentioned, certainly
there is none for premeditated, intentional adulteration.
The motive underlying this form can be none other than
unlawful gain, and should be dealt with accordingly. A
sample of beeswax examined in the drug laboratory of
the United States Department of Agriculture was found
to contain 83% of cassava starch, and another sam-
ple proved to be a scientifically prepared mixture, proba-
bly flavored artificially to resemble the genuine product.
Mr. Kebler, the chief of the drug laboratory, states that
25% of all turpentine, as usually purchased in small
lp;,i'ke---. is liberally adulterated with kerosene. It is a
common practice to place upon the market siftings and
sweepings which are collected from the floors of the large
warehouses, and these are known to contain much foreign
matter. Still another form of deception, which is mean,
to say the least, is to submit a sample of prime quality, and
on receipt of an order deliver goods of an inferior grade.
Mr. Kebler mentions a number of such instances, one
being that of a lot of linseed meal. The sample submit-
ted contained 38% of pure oil. After placing an order
on the strength of the sample, two carloads were deliv-
ered, which on examination proved to contain an average
of 85% of oil, but this was highly, adulterated with min-
eral oil, a part of the natural oil having been expressed
and the mineral oil added to maintain the percentage.
We demand stringent laws to regulate the manufact-
ure and sale of fertilizers; to control contagious diseases
of animals; and to regulate and control the sale and dis-
tribution of nursery stock, but have no fixed standards of
purity for those who manufacture and sell that which
goes to nourish the body and heal its diseases. Is it reas-
onable to assume that those who manufacture and sell
food products, drugs and chemicals, are more scrupulous
than those who manufacture and sell fertilizers or dis-
tribute nursery stock?
Let us, then, with other States which are progressive,
demand a pure food and drug law in order that we may
be assured of the purity of those things which are
intended to nourish and heal our bodies.
9G4State papers please copy.