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7. Cheese. The quality of cheese is determined by the taste and consistence. Inferior cheeses are often soft and leathery, owing to the amount of water which they contain. Starch, which is sometimes added to increase the weight, may be detected by iodine.
8. Eggs. An average-sized egg weighs about 2 oz. avoir. Fresh eggs, when looked through, are more transparent at the centre; stale ones, at the top. In a solution of 1 of salt to 10 of water, good eggs sink, while the stale ones float.
9. Potatoes should be of good size, give no evidence of disease, be firm to the touch, and, when cooked, should not be close or watery.
10. Tea. According to Dr. Letheby, the bloom or glaze of black and green tea is generally artificial. In the case of black tea, it sometimes consists of a coating of black-lead; and in that of green tea, it is usually a mixture of Prussian blue, turmeric, and China clay. Both kinds of adulteration are detected by shaking the leaves in cold water, straining through muslin, and afterwards examining the deposit. Inferior mixtures, such as Maloo mixture, Moning congou, Pekoe siftings, etc., are largely imported into this country, and consist of exhausted tea-leaves, leaves of other plants, iron-filings, etc., with only a little good tea.
Good tea should yield a pleasant aroma, alike in the dry state and when infused in boiling water, and the flavour of the infusion should be agreeable. If the tea is suspicious, the infused leaves should be spread out and carefully scrutinised, and any powdery deposit examined under the microscope.
11. Coffee. The principal adulteration of coffee is chicory. The adulteration may be detected either by
microscopic examination or by sprinkling a portion of the suspected sample on the surface of water, when the coffee will float and the chicory sink. The presence of chicory is also indicated if, on opening a package of coffee, the contents are found to be caked, or show any signs of caking.
SECTION VII.THE EFFECTS OF INSUFFICIENT OR
UNWHOLESOME FOOD ON PUBLIC HEALTH.
1. The minor effects of insufficient food are generally so intimately associated with those of other causes of disease, that it is impossible to estimate, with any approach to accuracy, their separate influence on public health. For, as Mr. Simon eloquently observes, "Long before insufficiency of diet becomes a matter of hygienic concern, long before the physiologist would think of counting the grains of nitrogen and carbon which intervene between death and starvation,-the household will have been utterly destitute of material comfort; clothing and fuel will have been even scantier than food; against inclemencies of weather there will have been no adequate protection; dwelling-space will have been stinted to the degree in which overcrowding produces or increases disease; of household utensils and furniture there will have been scarcely any,—even cleanliness will have been costly or difficult; and if there still be respectful endeavours to maintain it, every such endeavour will represent additional pangs of hunger. The home, too, will be where shelter can be cheapest bought,-in quarters where there is commonly least fruit of sanitary supervision, least drainage, least scavenging, least suppression of public nuisances, least, or worst, water-supply, and, if in town, least light and air.
Such are the sanitary dangers to which poverty is almost certainly exposed, when it is poverty enough to imply scantiness of food." And this picture, dark though it may appear, represents the condition of thousands who are struggling hard for very existence, and yet are all the while unsolicitous of relief. But when to these are added the numbers that swell the pauper list, and crowd the workhouses, with the famishing and permanently disabled, some conception may be formed of the wide-spread suffering and disease which follow in the wake of actual want.
The symptoms of failing health produced by insufficient diet, as observed in individual cases, are somewhat as follows:-There is gradual loss of flesh, advancing to extreme emaciation. The pulse becomes feeble, and the complexion sallow. Exertion brings on attacks of palpitation, vertigo, and transient blindness, until at last the patient falls a victim to some form of adynamic disease. Of this train of symptoms no more notable example could be quoted than the account given of the sanitary condition of Millbank Prison in 1823. The prisoners confined in this establishment had previously received a daily diet of 31 to 33 oz. of dry nutriment, when it was resolved to reduce this. allowance to 21 oz., and to exclude from the diet animal flesh, or nearly so. Hitherto, the prison had been considered healthy, but within a few months after the new diet-scale had been introduced, the health of the inmates began to give way, the first symptoms being loss of colour, gradual loss of flesh, and general debility. At last, numbers were attacked with diarrhoea, dysentery, and scurvy, and cases of convulsions, maniacal delirium, and apoplexy became common. About 52
per cent of the prisoners were more or less affected in this way; and to prove that the reduction of the diet was the chief, if not sole cause of the epidemic, the prisoners employed in the kitchen, and who were allowed 8 oz. additional bread daily, continued in good health, while the alarming sick-rate amongst the others was not diminished until the diet was increased.-(Carpenter.)
Similar observations to these were made amongst the prisoners confined in Fort Sumter during the late American war. The diet of the 30,000 inmates consisted of only 11 lb. meal and lb. bacon daily per head, and sometimes this allowance was reduced. As a consequence of this and other deplorable hygienic. defects connected with the prison, 10,000 Federals died within a period of less than seven months, the prevailing diseases being diarrhoea, dysentery, scurvy, and hospital gangrene.-(Carpenter.)
Again, the terrible mortality which prevailed amongst the British troops in the Crimean war was clearly attributable to the insufficiency of the food-supply. No extra allowance was granted for the increased exertion and the exposure to cold; and the result was, that within a few months the deaths from diarrhoea, dysentery, scurvy, and fever, rose to 39 per cent, and in some cases to 73.-(Letheby.)
As regards the civil population, the history of relapsing fever is almost exclusively a history of the ravages of disease arising from destitution; and the famines of the present century, especially those of 1817 and 1847, need only be referred to as evidence on this point. Further, the connection of scurvy with an insufficient or badly-arranged dietary is now so clearly established that it has been laid down as an axiom—
the privation of vegetable food is its one essential cause, and the giving of it is its one essential counteraction.
2. Unwholesome Food.-There is so much uncertainty with regard to the effects of eating what is called unsound meat, that Dr. Letheby observes, "I feel that the question of the fitness of such meat for food is in such an unsettled state, that my action in the matter is often very uncertain; and I should like to have the question experimentally determined; for, as it now stands, we are either condemning large quantities of meat which may be eaten with safety, and are therefore confiscating property, and lessening the supply of food; or we are permitting unwholesome meat to pass almost unchallenged in the public markets." No doubt, much of the apparent immunity from disease enjoyed by the large numbers who unwittingly indulge in unwholesome food at times, is to be attributed to the antiseptic power of good cooking, but there are also many instances. on record in which food of the most putrid description is devoured without producing any ill effects. Thus, according to Sir Robert Christison, there are whole tribes of savages who eat with impunity rancid oil, putrid blubber, and stinking offal; and in this country game is not considered to be in a fit state for the epicure's table until it is undergoing rapid putrefactive change. Admitting all this, however, there is abundant evidence to prove that serious consequences resulting from the use of unsound meat are of frequent occurrence, and in all probability a large proportion of cases of obscure disease owe their origin to the same cause. Moreover, as Dr. Parkes truly observes, it is but only logical to conclude, from general principles, that, as all diseases must affect the composition of animal flesh, and as active