Mr. Krauss to the Department of State.
Zittau, April 2, 1895.
Sir: At various times official and unofficial warnings have been published in German papers against evaporated apples from the United States, to the effect that they were sufficiently impregnated with oxides of zinc to make their use dangerous to health. Samples were bought by the police department of this city from several grocers, and, according to the analysis returned by the city chemist, were found to contain oxide of zinc in the following quantities: Sample No. 1, 0.05 grams in one kilogram; No. 2, 0.125 grams; No. 3, 0.175 grams, Subsequently complaints were filed by the authorities against two of the grocers for violation of the food laws, and they were charged with having willfully and knowingly sold American evaporated apples containing zinc, which were dangerous to health. One of the defendants produced an affidavit (furnished to him by his wholesale house), in which document a chemist declared that the same apples examined by him for the wholesale house did not contain any zinc. The second party testified that he had used a large portion of the apples in question in his own household without noticing the least ill effects from the use of them, and therefore held that he had good reason to believe the food to be pure. Both cases were dismissed, the defendants having shown to the satisfaction of the authorities that they were not aware of the dangerous adulteration of the apples and were justified in believing the merchandise to be harmless to the purchaser. No part of the questionable merchandise could be confiscated, because it had already been sold. Under date of February 18, 1895, the Generalanzeiger, a grocers’ trade journal, published the following:
The Royal district physician (Sanitätsrath), Dr. Zimmermann, of Dusseldorf, Prussia, has issued the following certificate:
Official testimonial.—At the request of Mr. L. C. F., a resident merchant, and in reference to the opinion of the city chemist (Dr. Loock), I hereby certify that the quantity of zinc salt contained in a very large portion of apple jam made from the dried apples in question could convey into the human system about one-fifth part of zinc which may be given to infants without causing nausea. From one-half of 1 gram to 1½ grams of acetate of zinc, which resembles the malic acid salt of zinc more closely than any other zinc salt, are needed for an emetic for small children; with adults the fourfold quantity will hardly cause ill feeling. I therefore hold that American evaporated apples are not unwholesome, nor is there any danger incurred by using them.
From the above it would appear that the doses consumed in one meal are not liable to cause any ill effect, and I have not, during my investigation of the matter, heard of a solitary case where illness could be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be due to the use of such apples; but I did learn that a great many persons have ceased to use the American product.
In order to stop the backward movement of this promising trade, to regain the lost customers, and to expand the export of dried fruit, it is necessary that the American exporters sell a product absolutely free from zinc or any other adulterant, making this fact known to the [Page 312] buying public by the judicious use of printers’ ink. If the apples become tainted with zinc while in contact with the drying pans, this might be avoided by employing enameled pans or screens. The use of chlorides or sulphates of zinc in ever so small a quantity as a bleach or preservative (the most probable cause of the trouble) is not needed to make the American product equal to the German fruit, but such practices will surely harm the trade if not discontinued.
The loss may not be felt so much just now, while a moderate crop only has to be marketed, and a failure in portions of Europe has created an unusual demand. But there are additional thousands of trees coming into bearing yearly, and in times of abundant harvests on both sides of the Atlantic the competition here will only too gladly make use of any weapon offering itself. Unjust and exaggerated denunciations can be conquered, and the market as well, if American producers and exporters choose as their maxim “American goods, pure goods,” thus paving the road for the remunerative disposal of quite a portion of the next abundant fruit crop.
I am, etc.,