Press Bulletin No. 31.
[A. W. BLAIR.]
To the casual observer it would hardly seem possible
that the berry from which America's favorite morning
beverage is extracted should be extensively adulterated;
but that this is true, is fully borne out by extensive in-
vestigations carried on by the United States Department
of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., and by a. number of
the State Experiment Stations.
Food adulterations may be grouped into two classes:
First, hose which are injurious to health, an example of
which'is the addition of salicylic acid or formaldehyde to
milk to preserve it; Second, those which are simply fraud-
ulent in their nature, as the extraction of fat from milk,
or the addition of ground peanut or cocoanut shells to
ground coffee, spices and peppers.
To this latter class belongs most of the adulteration
which is practiced on coffee. This fraudulent adulteration
may again be grouped into two classes: First, substitu-
tion ; that is, where some other substance, as for example,
November Ist, 1902.
chicory or a cereal product is substituted for coffee;
Second, imitation: that is, where some other substance is
manufactured and placed upon the market in imitation
of the genuine product as oleomargarine for butter, or
cotton seed oil for olive oil.
The Senate committee on manufactures from the first
session of the 56th Congress summoned to appear before
it a great many witnesses-men of distinction from differ-
ent parts of'the country and representing different pro-
fessions and callings-to give testimony as to the extent
and character of the adulturation of food products. Prof.
E. H. Jenkins, Vice Director of the Connecticut Experi-
ment Station, (Connecticut has a food law), was one of
these witnesses, and testified in part as follows: "Coffee
has been very largely adulterated-I mean the cheaper
grades of ground coffee. The coffee that is sold whole is
not often adulterated. We have, however, found whole
coffee containing crushed peas and chicory and artificial
coffee, of which I shall speak later; but the ground cof-
fees, selling for 25 cents a pound and under, have been
extremely adulterated with chicory, with crushed peas,
with artificial coffee, and with what we call "coffee pel-
lets." Imitation coffee is wheat middlings or flour, and
possibly a little gum, moulded into cylinders, perhaps the
size of the little finger, and roasted. Then that is crush-
ed, and each fragment has the curve of the cylinder, and
does not look entirely unlike the crushed coffee. Besides
that, there are added pellets-pea-hulls, which are made
into pellets a little larger than pea heads."
Another witness, Prof. Victor C. Vaughan of the Uni-
versity of Michigan, (Michigan also has a food law) said
among other things: "Now, ground coffees are largely
adulterated. I suppose most people know that these cof-
fees are adulterated. Some of them have no coffee in
them at all, but still they are sold as coffee. And then
there are coffee substitutes which are sold in some parts
of the United States as brands of coffee-Father Kneipp's
Coffee. Everybody who knows anything about it knows
that there is no coffee at all in that; but the government
allows it to be sold as a coffee, and many people who buy
it think they are getting a special brand of coffee."
Dr. H. W. Wiley, Chief Chimist of the United States
Department of Agriculture, also gave testimony before
this committee and on the subject of coffee he said in
part: "Very extensive adulterations of the unground
coffee berryhave been practiced. A little molasses and
flour colored to suit, whether you are going to mix it with
the roasted berry or the green berry; is moulded to re-
semble in shape the coffee berry. These artificial berries
I have picked out of coffee purchased in the open market.
As much.as 25 per cent I have found to be artificial, but
when mixed with the pure berries no one would notice the
false ones when buying." When asked by the chairman
if this was so in the ground state, Dr. Wiley answered,
"Both ground and roasted, colored to suit." When further
questioned as to where these could be found, Dr. Wiley
said in the Washington market, but that he did not know
where they were made.
Dr. Wiley has given a list of imitation coffees which
have been examined in the laboratory of the United
States Department of Agriculture.
They comprise the following mixtures which were press-
ed or moulded into berries or pellets:
Coffee, bran, molasses. Wheat flour and sawdust,
Wheat flour, coffee and chicory. Hulls of leguminous seeds formed
Wheat flour, bran and rye. into granules with molasses, and
Chicory peas, (or beans) and barley roasted.
Wheat, oats and buckwheat. Pea-hulls and bran.
Another witness, a wholesale druggist of Chicago, show-
ed samples of coffee which were nothing but dead and
sour beans, known to the trade as "Black Jack." He testi-
fied that Brazilian coffee is first shipped to Germany
where it is hand picked, and the pickings are these dead,
sour beans which are not permitted to be placed upon the
German market, but are shipped to the United States to
be mixed with sound coffee.
If one will examine carefully the coffee in a few barrels
of the cheaper grades on almost any market, he will have
little trouble in picking out quite a number of faulty ber-
ries. Those who have studied the subject have known for
some time that the consumption of Mocha and Java
greatly exceeds the supply, but it will be some consolation
to the lovers of good coffee to know that Dr. Wiley con-
siders the Brazilian substitutes, when unadulterated,
equally as good and healthful as that which come from
Java and Arabia. The great wrong consists in the pur-
chaser being deceived and charged 85 or 40 cents per pound
for that which should be sold for 18 or 20 cents.
It is not necessary, however, to prohibit the use of such
things as chicory and cereal products in coffee, if there are
persons who prefer the mixture to pure coffee; but there
should be a law, and provision for its enforcement, com-
pelling the manufacturer or wholesaler to place upon
every package (and this should of course, apply to all
food products that are not strictly pure) a label giving
the name and proportions of each ingredient entering into
the mixture, and then the customer will be able to buy
pure articles or mixed goods, according as he likes, and
will not be compelled to pay extortionate prices for ma-
terials that are worth only a few cents.
The testimony of the Senate Committee on the adultera-
tion of food products, brought out the fact that many
manufacturers are forced to adulterate their goods or go
out of business, on account of the fraud and deception
practiced by unscrupulous men, and a well regulated and
properly administered law would, at the same time, pro-
tect the honest manufacturer and dealer and give to the
public a much better and more wholesome class of foods.
SState papers please copy or notice.