No. 234.
Mr. Noyes to Mr. Blaine.

No. 475.]

Sir: I have the honor to send you herewith the translation of remarks made in the Chamber of Deputies on the occasion of the interpellation of Mr. Tirard, minister of agriculture and commerce, by the deputy from Havre, on the 24th day of May, 1881. It will be noticed that at the close of the remarks of Mr. Tirard he plainly indicated that [Page 410] as soon as the necessary arrangements could be made for thorough in spection of American meats, he would propose the revocation of the prohibitory decree. I learn also from other sources, unofficial, that this is in contemplation by the French Government.

In answer to your telegram of the 24th instant, referring to certain published statements alleged to have been made by the minister of agriculture and commerce to the deputations from the Chambers of Commerce at Havre and Bordeaux, I take pleasure in saying that after careful inquiry, I am satisfied that the minister did not make the statements imputed to him. What he did say was in substance the same as what appears in the report of his remarks in the Chamber of Deputies herewith inclosed.

You can rest assured that I have neglected no opportunity to assert and emphasize your views upon this question, and very powerful French influences are operating to secure the revocation of the decree. There is unavoidable delay, but I believe the result will be attained after a time.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 475.]

Chamber of Deputies, Sitting of May 24, 1881.

Mr. Peulevey (Havre) asked to put a question to the minister of agriculture and commerce, relative to the prohibition of American salted meats. He explained that the maintenance of the decree of prohibition caused a great prejudice to an important branch of French commerce. For more than twenty-five years the laboring population had contracted the habit of finding in these meats a healthful element of alimentation. This situation has been overturned by a decree of prohibition. It was charged that American salted meats contained live trichinae; but it is necessary to know whether the fact is such, and, if so, whether it offers a real danger. Only one case of trichinosis has been established in France, and this was twenty-five years ago at Crépy-en-Valois. But in meats salted for two or three months the trichinae is dead; at any rate, cooking at 75° will kill it. American salted meats are therefore without any danger, and there can be no motives to maintain the decree of prohibition.

Mr. Lionville said that live trichinae were found in salted and smoked meats.

Mr. Tirard, minister of commerce, replied that numerous complaints had been made against the decree which the government had been compelled to issue. With a view of giving satisfaction to those who so complained, the government instituted a bureau of verification which has been in operation since February. In the beginning, when this service was not as yet well-organized, no trichinæ were detected at Havre, but it has happened that the same lots submitted to re-examination in Paris were found to contain trichinae in great quantity. (Oh! Oh!) Since the Havre service has been reorganized, it has detected trichinae in an important proportion of the meat examined. It is asked if bad results have followed. But the first duty of the government is to? prevent accidents. This is what it has done with all due consideration to freedom of commerce. I can assure you, gentlemen, that the government is continuing the examination of this matter, not in a scientific point of view, for in this respect my opinion is made. I have read all the discussions which have taken place on this subject in France and abroad, and if Mr. Peulevey had seen all the documents published, not only in Europe, but also in America, where the decree of prohibition has created much excitement, he would have found that the Americans themselves admitted that they had not taken the necessary precautions against dangers which might attend their salted meats.

The minister then quoted as supporting his views the report of British commissioners to the United States, and said that the administration is determined not to allow the free circulation of these dangerous products, that it was trying to establish an effective system of inspection, but that so long as it shall not be possible to organize this system on a large scale, it will not take the responsibility of revoking the decree of prohibition.

Mr. Peulevey. The minister has said that his opinion was made; this is unquestionable. [Page 411] But upon what facts and documents has he made that opinion? Evidently he must have come to it upon the reports of his inspectors. Now do yon know what they have reported? At Bordeaux, of 1,500,000 kilograms of meats, they found only 21 pieces infected, which represents a proportion 0.016 per cent. Why does not the minister adopt the suggestion of creating a commission composed of competent men, to which will be intrusted the duty of determining whether or not the small proportion of trichinae found in the American porks is dangerous, after remaining three months in salt. Under those conditions trichinae are absolutely inoffensive, if slightly cooked. In your answer you have not pointed out one single case of trichinosis; you have only opposed an obstinate resistance to the desire of commerce, and I can add that you have refused to enlighten us by means of a scientific commission.

Mr. Tirard replied that this scientific commission exists, in the committee of hygiene, whose members have been appointed by the President, that he can rely also upon the discussions which have taken place at the academy of medicine. Of course there are controversies upon the subject, but the government cannot wait until all the physicians agree in this respect. Mr. Tirard then said that this very morning he had received from Bordeaux the information that the day before a notable quantity of trichinae had been detected in American meats. He concluded as follows: As for the revoking of the decree, I repeat that when it shall be found practicable to establish, not only at Havre, but at other ports, and on the frontier, a very complete service of inspection, giving all the necessary guarantees, I will be able to propose to the President to revoke that decree, which has been issued, I must say again, against my desire, and only to secure public health.