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present to import live stock or fresh meat with any chance of its arriving here in a sound or healthy condition. From its concentrated form, and comparatively reasonable price, this extract of meat is now largely used in the preparation of soup, and the readers of such papers as the 'Pharmaceutical Journal' must see with surprise with what energy it is being pressed by the manufacturers upon the notice of the medical profession; it cannot fail to relieve in some degree the demand for fresh meat.
Still, there is a great outcry for an artificial, or rather for an extraneous supply of fresh meat, and when we come to look abroad, and consider the relative value of this commodity there and at home, we are not a little startled at the result of our inquiries. “First-rate meat is sold in the market at Buenos Ayres by the piece and not by weight, a leg of mutton costing from 10d. to 1s., and beef is comparatively cheaper ;"* the flocks of sheep about the River Plate are so numerous, that “the term of natural life of the animal renders it henceforth necessary that there should be annually slaughtered and, for want of a better means of utilizing them,
boiled down' more or less 6,000,000 to 7,000,000 sheep, otherwise they would die natural deaths or from starvation, and their carcass-products, the main sources of a breeder's profit, be lost,” | and on an “Estancia” belonging to a well-known firm of breeders in Urugiay, which is now being converted into a joint stock company, with a view to the breeding and feeding of cattle and the preservation of meat for the English market, there are nearly 90,000 sheep, 5,600 head of cattle, and 1,200 horses, valued together at 59,2271.; in other words, the sheep are valued at about thirteen shillings each, and about 7,000 head of cattle and horses are thrown into the bargain gratis, whilst the “freehold ” land is said to be “rich bottom land, with scarcely a stone to be found on it, irrigated by numerous rivulets, producing most luxuriant fodder for sheep and cattle," and it is set down in the valuation at eighteen and ninepence per acre. In short, whilst in England the half-starved people are breaking into butchers' shops to enforce a reduction of meat upon tenpence a pound, the same staple may be bought within five weeks' steaming of us at a nominal price, and is annually destroyed in immense quantities to save the more valuable (because more easily preservable) fat and hides; and the land upon which the cattle is pastured may be bought under a pound an acre! We
* Report on the Methods Employed in the River Plate for curing Meat for European Markets,' by Francis Clare Ford, Esq., Brit. Chargé d'Affaires at Buenos Ayres. Presented to both Houses. 1866. London: Harrison & Sons.
+ Letter of Mr. W. Latham to “The Times,' dated Buenos Ayres, Sept. 25, 1867.
I Supply of Meat from South America,' by A. Prange, Esq. Mr. Prange wrote to the The Times,' Oct. 22, and his statement is confirmed by other writers in the same journal, that he can produce the best fed beef on his Estancia, Nueva Alemania, on the River Plate, at twopence per pound!
the heart all the
need not be surprised if here and there a practical man shakes his head sceptically, and asks, What is the use of Science if it allows such a state of things to exist ?
As we have already said, the great difficulty to be overcome is the conveyance of the cattle to England or the preservation of the meat abroad, either in its raw state, or at least in such a condition as to render it fit to be brought into competition with English meat, and many persons are engaged both practically and experimentally in endeavouring to gain that end.
Mr. Ford, in his Report already referred to notices three processes employed at Buenos Ayres for the preservation of meat, namely, Morgan's, Liebig's, and Sloper's; and Mr. Prange in his pamphlet mentions that of Messrs. Medlock and Bailey, of Wolverhampton.
“Mr. Morgan's process is based on forced infiltration," and he has adopted the circulatory system of the body as a means of introducing brine into the tissues. The operation is performed by allowing all the blood to escape through artificial incisions made in the heart of the animal after death, and by the subsequent injection into the heart, and through it into the whole circulating system, of a fluid consisting of water and salt (“one gallon of brine to the cwt."), and “a quarter to half-a-pound of nitre, carefully refined.” The writer of the report considers this system of curing superior to that by means of salt outwardly applied, as he believes that the “natural juices and alimentary substances” are retained ; and he says, “The meat has hitherto arrived in England sound and good, and I am enabled from personal experience to testify to the admirable quality of the samples I tasted which were inviting and palatable.” It will occur to the reader, however, to inquire whether Mr. Ford tasted this “inviting and palatable” beef in Buenos Ayres before it was shipped (for his report comes from thence), or after it had passed through the ordeal of a long sea-voyage in the confined hold of a vessel; and if in Buenos Ayres, then, whence he derives the authority for his statement, that the meat “ has hitherto arrived in England sound and good.” We have often seen it exposed for sale, at a price below that of salted beef, and although it is sometimes purchased out of curiosity by the middle classes, we may confidently say that it does not compete with home-grown beef, and is of a very inferior quality.
Of Liebig's process, which Mr. Ford describes in detail, we have already spoken; and will now add a few particulars which may interest our readers. “The meat of the animal after being killed is allowed to cool for twenty-four hours; it is then placed in round iron rollers (armed inside with points) which, being revolved by steam, reduce the meat to a pulp. This pulp is thrown into a large vat with water, and allowed to steam for an hour, and is then passed into a reservoir (shaped like a trough with a sieve at
the bottom), from whence the fluid of the meat oozes into another vat from whence the fat is drawn off.* The pure gravy is then put into open vats supplied with steam-pipes and with bellows on the surface, which produce a blast and carry off the steam, thus helping the evaporation and preventing condensation. Here it remains from six to eight hours, when it is passed into a filtering vat and drawn off in the form of extract of meat. When cool it partially hardens, and is ready for packing in tins and exportation.” Mr. Ford tells us that eight small tins will hold the concentrated alimentary matter of an entire ox, at the price of 96s., and will make over 1,000 basins of good, strong soup, costing, therefore, rather less than a penny a basin.
Mr. Ford speaks rather doubtfully of Mr. Sloper's process; —and, whilst he is very enthusiastic about Morgan's (to which reference has been made), he says concerning that of Mc Call and Sloper, “These gentlemen profess to be able to preserve meat in its fresh and raw state, which is to arrive in England or elsewhere in the exact condition as butcher's meat just killed, &c., &c." He observes, in another part of his report, that the price paid for Morgan's beef is barely remunerative, so the other gentlemen are probably adopting the wiser course of bringing their system to perfection (if this can be done) before applying it in a practical manner. It must be clearly understood that we do not wish to discourage the attempt to preserve meat chemically, but believing that as at present imported it gains little favour, and is calculated to raise a prejudice which it may be found very difficult to remove hereafter, we would recommend the greatest caution in the practical application of any new system. Messrs. Medlock and Bailey use Bisulphite of Lime, and Mr. McCall Bisulphite of Soda in the preservation of his meat; both these processes are patented, and we believe the system of injection is employed as described above.
By far the most valuable, as it is the simplest, system of preservation, however, is that of packing the meat in tin cases as practised in America, Australia, and at home, and to this we shall now direct the reader's attention. At Mr. McCall's Factory in Houndsditch this operation may be seen in perfection, and no secret is made of the process. On entering the factory, the visitor is struck with the long rows of legs of mutton and venison, and pieces of meat to be preserved; and is introduced into a large shed where a great many butchers are employed in cutting the bone and a portion of the fat from the meat, and reducing it to a suitable form for preserving in tins. The raw meat is then packed tightly in these tins (varying in weight from half-a-pound to six
* We are quoting Mr. Ford, and must not be held responsible for the verbiaga of a State document.
pounds), and a little water being added the lids are closed, a small hole being left in each of them; and a considerable number are then placed in a bath in such a manner as to leave the upper part of the tins exposed. This bath contains Chloride of Calcium in solution raised to about boiling point, and whilst the contents of the tins are boiling, the water escapes as steam through the holes punctured in the lids. After a time the air is all expelled, the holes are soldered up, and the tins with their contents transferred to another bath, but raised to 260 degrees, and should any of them be imperfectly soldered they at once begin to leak. After boiling there for some time the meat is in a fit state for being kept any length of time, and it only remains to ascertain whether the air has been perfectly excluded. For this purpose the tins are placed in a dry chamber warmed up to about 90 degrees, and are left there for a time. The workman then gives each tin a light tap at the upper end, and if it emits a hollow sound, indicative of a space below, he is satisfied there is a vacuum and marks the tin as perfect; but should the sound be dull, as though the meat were in immediate contact with the lid, such a tin is not considered fit for retention and is set aside. Meat so preserved is already very largely employed for ships' use, and it is hardly necessary to say that as so simple an operation may be, and is, performed abroad where meat is cheap, as well as in England where it is dear, the development of this branch of industry will have a most important effect upon our meat-supply.
The great desideratum will be to provide a quality of meat suitable for preservation, and as that applies to all systems, whatever they may be, we shall now direct our attention to this phase of the subject. Of the remarkable facilities which exist on the River Plate for the breeding of sheep and cattle we have already spoken, and we would now, in passing, direct the reader's attention to the illustration accompanying this paper, which will convey some idea of the appearance of an Estancia, or cattle-breeding and sheepshearing farm in Uruguay. In the foreground are the cottage with its Corral, or cattle-pen, its store and shearing house, and in the distance, the sheds, wharf, and vessels loading hides, tallow, and wool. These are the chief products of the live stock, besides the calcined bones, which the breeder aims to secure, the flesh being quite a secondary matter, and all authorities are at present agreed that the meat offered for sale on the River Plate is not suitable for preservation and exportation. The reasons are that the cattle is wild and unfit for slaughter, that no attempt on a large scale has been made to breed such as would produce good meat, and that if even the stock sent to Buenos Ayres be of a good description when it leaves the Estancia, it arrives there “miserably fatigued, the effect of which on the meat cannot but be disastrous, as after that its nutritive power is diminished and it cannot keep,"'* and Mr. Latham considers that “it will take two or three pounds of Argentine meat in its usual condition to equal in nutritive value one pound of English-fed meat.” It must therefore be obvious to every reflecting person, that if such meat be exported to England, and arrives here in the best condition, the price at which it is offered, say fourpence a pound, cannot afford a sufficient inducement to purchasers, who would find a better investment for their money in home-grown meat at sevenpence or eightpence per pound. There is, however, nothing impracticable in the way of feeding-up suitable animals, and the land and cattle owners do so for their own use on the farm. Mr. Prange writes to 'The Times': “I have every year reared a small number of oxen for household consumption, and I may safely say that their beef is as tender and juicy as the fine joints I dine off at this hotel.”+ “Beef,” he further adds, “from the cattle as now reared can be bought in Uruguay at a half-penny per pound; and I shall make a fine business of it, if in a few years I can sell 6,000 oxen, fattened on my land, at 2d. per pound for the best beef.”
Seldom have words of so encouraging a kind appeared in the leading journal, and we have no hesitation in saying that as such a result can be attained within four or five weeks' voyage of our shores, the time is not far distant when a large supply of wholesome meat will find its way into our markets. As long as there was no regular outlet for such beef—it being worth in Buenos Ayres less than a penny a pound, and employed only as “ charqui,” or jerked beef for export to Brazil and Havannah for the use of the slave population - it was not likely that the breeders would trouble themselves to improve its quality. Soon, however, it will come into competition with English preserved meat; and an Estancia has just been sold to a German Joint Stock Company established for the manufacture of the extract of meat, whilst another has for some time been worked by the “Antwerp Liebig's Meat Extract Company."
With respect to the improvement in the breed of Cattle, and the fattening of stock, there appears to be no difficulty whatever. Mr. Latham in his letter to The Times, and in his excellent work on the River Plate, has discussed the subject fully and impartially, t and what he tells us agrees entirely with the statements of the owners of large Estancias. For many years past, English bred cattle has been imported for the purpose of crossing with and improving the native breeds, and on the better regulated Estancias good cross-bred
* Mr. G. Bell's letter to The Times,' October 28, 1867; and The States of the River Plate' (p. 140), by Wilfred Latham. Longmans. 2nd edition. 1868.
Morley's. ** The States of the River Plate,' pp. 15, 19, 22, 23, 34, 44.