Press Bulletin No. 42.
Spices and Condiments.
(BY A. W. BLAIR) "
Of all the substances which constitute the food and
drink of man, there are perhaps not any which are more
susceptible of adulteration than spices and condiments.
They are almost invariably sold in the ground state and
in this form it is well nigh impossible for the average
person to detect the adulterant. Almost any substance
which may be easily pulverized and which possesses no
very characteristic odor or taste of its own, may be used.
So great is the demand for materials for this kind of
adulteration, that new industries, having for their work
the production of articles known as "spice mixtures" or
"pepper dust," have been called into existence.
Dr. H. W. Wiley in giving testimony before the Sen-
ate Committee of the 56th Congress on "The Adultera-
November Ist, 1903.
tion of Food Products," stated that these fillers are man-
ufactured in large quantities and sold to dealers in spices
and condiments, so that any .desired color can be imitat-
ed; he exhibited samples as follows: First, filler for all-
spice and cloves; second, filler for black peper; third,
filler for cayenne pepper; fourth, filler for cinnamon;
fifth, filler for ginger; sixth, filler for mustard; seventh,
filler for cream of tartar. He also stated to the Commit-
tee that he did not think there was a spice or a condi-
ment of any kind that had escaped adulteration in the
ground state. A report on the Inspection and Analysis
of Foods issued by the Kentucky Experiment Station,
February, 1902, contains the following in regard to spices
and pepper: "Ground spices and pepper are nearly al-
ways adulterated with some inert substance, which is
used to increase the bulk of the'article. Peanut shells,
cocoanut hulls, brick dust, flour, ground corn, cracker
meal and other similar substances, are authoritatively
mentioned among' the list of refuse from which these
fillers are made. There are factories which do nothing
else but grind and color these fillers tor the trade, and
most of the pepper and spice houses have a regular sys-
tem and plan for such adulterations. A leading exam-
ple of the system was noted during an inspection tour.
The proprietor of a spice and pepper grinding establish-
ment, pointed out on the third floor of his factory two
long rows of barrels. One row had in each barrel a va-
riety of pepper or spice ground; the other had each bar-
rell filled with a tasteless material, the color and fine-
ness of the barrel opposite. From this floor the boxes
were packed for consignment, and the proprietor stated
that when a cheap pepper or spice was ordered, the order
was mixed with its respective filler to suit the price."
Another report from the same state issued January, 1900,
shows that 78.5 per cent of the spices, pepper, etc., ex-
amined were adulterated. A similar report from the
North Carolina Department of Agriculture shows that
20.4 per cent of the condiments examined, which included
black, white and red pepper, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and
mace, ginger, cinnamon., and mustard were adulterated.
In addition to the adulterants already referred to may be
mentioned, ground rice, ground pepper husks, sweepings,
ground olive stones, carbonate of lime, ground mustard
husks, turmeric, mineral coloring, gypsum, clay and
buckwheat. Many, perhaps most of these substances,
are not in anyway injurious,but it is wrong for such fraud-
ulant materials to be imposed upon an innocent public.
It compels the consumer to pay a high price for a large
percentage of materials which are absolutely worthless so
far as his requirements are concerned.
The only way by which such wholesale adulteration
can be checked and prevented, is for the State to have a
pure food law with adequate provision for its execution.
So long as there are states which have no pure food law
or a law which is a dead letter, just so long will these
materials for adulteration be manufactured, and just so
long will those states be afflicted with adulterated goods.
fB State papers please copy or notice.