No. 176.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Sargent.

No. 87.]

Sir: I transmit herewith copies of a memorial addressed to the President, under date of the 9th instant, by the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York concerning the apprehended prohibition by the German Government of the importation of American bacon—hams and hog products—into the territory of the Empire.

The considerations set forth by the memorialists are believed to be justly stated. They represent what this Department has so frequently hitherto represented through your legation, that the alleged existence of trichinae, and of diseases among swine in this country to an alarming extent, cannot, even if established, affect the healthfulness of the exported product, inasmuch as the hog products of the United States are prepared for market in a manner which renders their uncooked consumption all but impossible that the disease known as trichinosis is rare among American consumers of swine’s flesh, and that not more than two or three cases in Germany during the past ten years have occurred where the disease could be ascribed to the consumption of American pork, while most of the reported cases in Germany are directly traceable to the consumption of the raw meat of freshly killed domestic hogs. And they state further that with respect to alleged exportation of deleterious meat from diseased hogs no substantiation whatever has been shown.

As you are aware, this Government at home and through its legation at Berlin has made every effort from the first to countervail a tendency toward what it believes to be uncalled-for and unjust legislation on the part of Germany, in seeking to exclude from one of the largest markets of the world a product of such great importance to the United States. [Page 336] No endeavor has been spared to bring home to the mind of the imperial Government the conviction, reached by this Government after exhaustive and impartial investigation of the subject, that the premises upon which the intended prohibition rests are unfounded, and that the exported hog products of the United States are in nowise the indiscriminate source of danger to life and health which they are alleged to be. You and your predecessors have earnestly set forth all this to the imperial Government; you have labored to convey a right understanding of the facts of the matter as they are ascertained to exist here, and you have urged the hardship, almost amounting to an international wrong, which would be inflicted alike upon the producers of the United States and the peasantry of Germany, by cutting off from the one class a large and secure market, and depriving the other of a cheaper food than their own country can supply. So far as is now known, your efforts in this direction have not been crowned with the hoped-for result.

But one course now remains. It is believed here that if the Imperial Government itself were to do as the Government of the United States has done, and closely examine on the spot all the conditions of the hog-raising and packing industry, if it were to follow by practical observation the course of this staple of food from the fields and farms to the packed state, the same conclusions would be inevitably reached as those to which this Government has been drawn. So firmly is this believed that the Government of the United States deems it a common duty to its own citizens and to the consumers in Germany to invite the Imperial Government to examine into the matter for itself, by a commission of experts sent to this country, before final decision is taken on the proposed measures.

This Government stands ready to extend to that of Germany the fullest facilities for the profitable pursuit of such an investigation. Believing that the results which it will promise are of no less moment to the consumers of hog products in the United States than to those in Germany, it is willing to lend the services of one or more impartial experts, scientists of known probity, to co-operate with those whom Germany may send, if such co-operation be deemed desirable and acceptable by Germany.

You will therefore present to the imperial Government, in the name of the President, a formal proposal and invitation to send to the United States a commission of experts, who shall, either by themselves or jointly with impartial scientists named by the United States, investigate the whole question of hog raising and the curing and packing of hog products as food in the United States. And you will ask that action in a final sense upon the pending prohibitory measures may be suspended during such reasonable time as may be necessary for such a commission to make a thorough examination of the subject and report thereon. You will add that in making this proposition the Government of the United States is actuated by the fairest and most friendly motives; that its desire, no less than that of Germany can be, is solely that the truth of the matter may be established, and that it deems its reasonable request entitled to friendly consideration on the part of a Government bound to the United States by so many ties as is that of Germany. It is thought, above all, necessary that some such course as that now; proposed be adopted to free whatever resultant course Germany may adopt from the possible charge of being an unfriendly discrimination.

You will read this dispatch to the minister for foreign affairs, and leave with him a copy.

I am, &c.,

[Page 337]
[Inclosure in No. 87.]

Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York.

Memorial in regard to the prohibition of the importation of American bacon and hams into Germany.

To the President of the United States:

The Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York respectfully asks leave to represent that the imperial Government of Germany has openly declared its intention to prohibit the importation of American bacon and hams into their country, on the ground of the alleged unwholesomeness of these products, and that such prohibition threatens to destroy a valuable and growing branch of commerce between our country and Germany.

Your memorialists are aware that the honorable the Secretary of State has already directed the attention of the United States minister at Berlin to the subject. In view of its grave importance, and of the fact that the German Government has only recently made a public statement of its intention and of the reasons that have prompted it, your memorialists nevertheless deem themselves justified in adding their testimony to the information already in possession of the Government, and in directing its attention to those points which, in the present position of the matter, appear to be of the greatest importance.

The German Government bases its intention on two facts which it claims to be established, namely, first, on the occurrence of the parasite trichinœ spiralis in the American hog products to a greater degree than it is found in the German hog; and, secondly, on the widespread prevalence in our hog-producing districts of the disease known as hog-cholera.

Your memorialists are convinced not only that both these charges are exaggerated, but also that the conclusions drawn from them by the German Government are not justified and can form no reasonable ground for the contemplated prohibition.

Trichina.—The German Government claims to have established the occurrence of this dangerous parasite in about 4 per cent. of the American bacon and hams imported into Germany, which is stated to be the result of accurate investigations prosecuted during a series of years. No similar official tests having ever been made on this side, your memorialists are unable to disprove or to confirm the alleged fact, and any contradiction from our side, therefore, is not likely to be accepted. But there is one fact which, if properly urged, should convince the German Government of the injustice of basing a decree of prohibition on the alleged occurrence of trichina in American bacon and hams, which is this: That these products of our country are prepared for market in a manner which renders their consumption in the raw state all but impossible. This alone accounts for the rare occurrence among American consumers of the disease known as trichinosis, and for the fact that according to the German Government’s own statement not more than two or three cases have, within the past ten years, occurred in Germany, where the disease could be ascribed to the consumption of American pork, while all widespread and dangerous cases of trichinosis in Germany have been traced to the consumption of the raw meat of freshly killed domestic hogs. These facts, instead of justifying the threatened prohibition, rather go to establish a great advantage, in a sanitary point of view, of the use of the American product over that of the domestic meat.
Hog-cholera.—The existence of hog-cholera, also, is not denied, though the prevalence of the disease can be proved to have greatly diminished, since the bulk of our hogs is no longer raised mainly in connection with our distilleries, but on our Western farms, where they are fed on Indian corn. In urging this charge, the Government appears to have placed more faith in exaggerated newspaper reports than in the results of the official investigation instituted by our Government, which were embodied in the report made to the State Department by Mr. Scanlan, chief of the Bureau of Statistics, dated April 26, 1881, which report has been before them. Here again, however, the German Government has drawn conclusions from the facts alleged, which are not justified even by these facts, since they have been unable to point out the occurrence of any American meat which might have been called diseased from that cause, much less any injury that might thereby have been inflicted on the health of the consumers.

In view of the fact that the thorough and systematic exclusion of diseased hogs from our packing establishments can easily be proved to any fair-minded man that will take the trouble of examining into the process connected with the preparation of these products for market, your memorialists respectfully suggest that the German Government should be invited to examine into this matter by a commission of experts sent to this country, before final decision is taken on the proposed measure.

And your memorialists will ever pray, &.c.,

GEORGE W. LANE, President.