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The changes made in the food laws of the State at the last session of the Legislature, wbile not all that were needed, were such as to render the office of Dairy and Food Commissioner of vastly greater benefit to the people of the State than it had been in the past.
They provide for the fitting up and furnishing of a chemical laboratory in connection with the office, for the appointment of a State Analyst who should also be Deputy Commissioner, whose duty it should be to analyze all samples of food products submitted to him by the Commissioner and report to him as to their purity. It provided for not to exceed two olerks and for Inspectors who should examine food products and take samples for analysis. An appropriation of ten thousand dollars was made for carrying out the provisions of the law.
Wm. L. Rossman was appointed State Analyst, John R. Bennett, John I. Breck and Wm. B. Scattergood were appointed Inspectors and later, Samuel F. Cook was given a temporary appointment for work in the upper peninsula. It was believed at the start that the work in the laboratory could not be successfully performed by the State Analyst alone and one of the olerks provided for was selected with regard to his qualifications for an assistant in the obemioal work and he has been almost constantly employed in assisting in the work of the laboratory. The work of fitting and furnishing the laboratory was completed the latter part of September and the work of inspection and analysis was at once begun and bas been vigorously prosecuted since that time. The laok of knowledge of the provisions of the law among the dealers of the State necessitated the distribution, at the very beginning, of the information necessary to put the trade in position to intelligently meet its requirements. The law would, if it was to be enforced, work radical obanges in the obaracter of the food products sold in the State and inevitably entail loss to a certain extent to dealers in those products, and it was only fair that they should have the fullest information it was possible to furnish them. To meet this need, an edition of two thousand five hundred copies of a compilation of the food laws of the State was printed and distributed. The local boards of health, who were given certain powers under it, were furnished copies and the rest have been furnished on application to par. ties interested. Five thousand copies of Bulletin No. 1, containing a synopsis of the law, were also printed; of wbiob three thousand copies were, at the request of the Miobigan Wholesale Grooers' Association, sent to their secretary, H. P. Sanger of Detroit, and by him distributed
to the trade throughout the State. That number proving insufficient, permission was given by the Board of State Auditors, on applioation to them, for the printing of three thousand additional, most of them being sent to Mr. Sanger and sent out from his office.
The steps taken to seoure the passage of the law bad aroused the fear among the dealers in food produots that it would work irreparable injury to their business and bad, as & natural result, led to the formation of opinions opposed to the law and also to its enforcement. It was therefore believed not only the part of wisdom but of justice and in view of the radioal ohanges that must be wrought by its operation, that a course should be adopted in its enforcement that would, with the least hardship to them, put the dealers in possession of all the information possible and at the same time to use suoh discretion in regard to proseoution as to convince them that while prompt compliance with the provisions of the law would be required, it would if possible, be in such a way as to guard their rights and interests as fully as possible. It was left to them largely to say whether their compliance abould be a forced or voluntary one. The result of this action has, it is believed, fully justified the adoption of this course, as a very large amount of stook not legal has been returned to first hands and in almost every case its place has been filled with goods that comply with the law without loss to the dealer, in many instances even when it had been purohased before the law went into effect. many manufacturers and jobbers have ordered goods returned of their own motion and have supplied their places with such as could be legally sold. Compliance with the law has in alcoost every instanoe been prompt and obeerful. Another effect has been, that instead of the antagonisms that would naturally have been aroused by an indisoriminate resort to coercive measures, a feeling of satisfaction with the law and the effects produced by it, has been the result. While some loss and inconvenience has been suffered, it has been seen to be unavoidable and not the result of a hostile purpose on the part of any one, and today the feeling of nearly all parties concerned is believed to be one favorable to the law. It was natural to expect that unfriendly criticism would follow this action, by those not conversant with the plan adopted and the results following it, but so far as known there has been, but little. In answer to such criticisms, it would seem to be sufficient to say that this law does not differ from the other laws of the State. It was not passed as authority for persecutions but for the correction of evils and while ample authority is given for forcible correction of them, if the use of milder and less costly measures will produce practically the same result, it seems the part of wisdom to use the latter. Every resort to the courts is attended with more or less expense to the people and where the nature of a law makes its purpose more the suppression of an evil than the punishment of a criminal, and that objeot can be best secured by less expensive measures, it seems only right to follow the course that will entail the least expense.
Another thing to be considered in connection with this matter is that the men engaged in the manufacture and sale of food products in this State as a class are among our best oitizens. Generally they are men of influence in the communities where they reside. Competition has in nearly all cases forced them into handling adulterated goods. Certainly it is only simple justioe to give them the opportunity to put themselves right in the
eye of the law before taking any action that would in publio estimation at least put them in another olass.
Attention is called to the reports of the Inspectors which show more fully what measure of suocess has attended the course followed in this matter.
To learn the value of a proper law so administered as to give the best results, it is only necessary to consider briefly the extent and character of food adulterations. The United States Department of Agrioulture estimates the adulterated food, drink and drugs used in this country annually at fifteen per cent of the total amount of the artioles consumed or one billion and fourteen million dollars. Michigan's proportion of the population of the country is approximately one-thirtieth, which would make our proportion of that eum, thirty-three million eight hundred thousand dollars as the amount of the articles inoluded in the above estimate. It is possible that this is somewhat overestimated although the investigations made do not show it to be the case. This estimate inoludes the consumption of drugs, over which this office is not given control. The percentage of adulterated drugs inoluded in the above is not given, but to cover any possible overestimate and to cover the adulteration of drugs and med. ioines, deduot what would appear to be ample, say one-third, and we still have something more than twenty-two million dollars paid every year by the people of the State for articles of food and drink, of whiob two per oent or four hundred forty thousand dollars' worth is estimated by the Department of Agrioulture to be actually poisonous. The balanoe, while not all deleterious to health, has been in the past sold under a name to which it had no legal right, thus making all transactions in them fraudu. lent in tbeir character. The fact that many of the adulterated articles are not even harmful in their nature and have a legitimate place among food products, does not alter the fact that sold under any other name than their proper one, they are not a legitimate article of trade. In every oase where used as an adulterant, they are so used because they oan be sold obeaper than the artiole they represent. Take for example starob and its products. It has its legitimate place among the food products and a value all its own. So manipulated as to resemble goods made from fruits the demand for whiob by the human system it can by no means be made to supply, it becomes a fraud pure and simple and by no process of reasoning oan it be made anything less than that. Not only this but its sale in such guise not only defrauds the consumer by robbing him in the prioe be pays but it usurps the place in the market of an article that has a rightful place therein. Thus it not only robs the oonsumer but deprives the producer of the legitimate artiole of the chance to dispose of his produot and thus secure remuneration for his labor in its production but also the profit on his capital invested as well.
It bas been claimed that there was a legitimate demand for these cheap substitutes for fruit goods, but effoot of the the law requiring their sale for just what they are has shown that the claim was a fiotitious one; that they were only bought and used for what they appeared to be, fruit goods. Their sale in the State under the law requiring them to be labeled imitation, bas been reduced to the minimum, showing the absolute falsity of the olaim made for them.
In imitation dairy products the same olaim has been made, but the experience in states having the anti-color for butterine shows the olaim
to be unfounded. The Iowa Dairy and Food Commissioner, in his last report says the probibition of color bas practically stopped the sale of butterine in tbe state. What is sold is sold clandestinely. Not a single U. S. license is in use today, showing clearly that where it cannot be sold in the guise of butter, it cannot be sold at all.
The game is true of all adulterated or imitation foods. The olaim is made that they are produced in answer to a demand for obeap goods. Of course obeapness is demanded but what dealer, when he meets that demand with an adulterated artiole, ever tells a customer the reason of the low price demanded, or what purobaser seleots it knowing the true reason of its obeapness?
For the first two or three months after the Inspectors began their work samples of pure cider vin
cider vinegar were found to be the exception. The markets of the State were almost entirely supplied with colored spirit vinegar, in most cases sold as cider vinegar or malt vinegar. An almost entire renovation of the supply bas been the result of the work already done. Anything except uncolored spirit, pure malt or oider vinegar is hardly to be found at the present time.
Cider vinegar manufacturers bad large stocks on band at the time the law took effect but aocording to their own statements, did not know wbat they were going to do witb it and were besitating in regard to making more, but the result of the enforcement of the law bas been tbe entire cleaping out of their stock and increased output which found ready sale, thus creating an increased demand for cider apples at a considerable advance in price. In some cases, whole car loads of colored vinegar were returned to the manufacturers. One Micbigan firm of vinegar makers promptly recalled every barrel they could find of their colored goods, replacing the same with the genuine, thus furnisbing an example that proves a factor of greater effeotiveness than many prosecutions in the enforcement of the law.
In epices, a similar condition of things was found at the start and sim. ilar results bave followed. At first, adulterations were the rule and purity tbe exception. Today the rule so far as samples show is purity, and adulterations the exception. A few firms outside the State persist in and are in a few cases sucoessful in palming off through misrepresentations, their impure goode; but as soon as dealers find out the deception, they refuse to purchase of them in the future.
Wbat is true in regard to vinegar and spices is true in nearly the same degree of all or nearly all lines of goods bandled by grocers.
The law in regard to displaying signs where butterine or oleomargarine are sold is observed by most dealers but not as a rule by hotel and restaurant keepere. Under the present law, notbing but detective work will, if the parties are disposed to violate the law, succeed in suppressing violations. Only where kept for sale, oan it be secured by inspectors.