Mr. Wamer to Mr. Uhl.
Cologne, June 14, 1895.
Sir: In connection with my report on “Dried apples in Cologne,” under date of February 9, 1895, my attention has been particularly attracted by the very large number of fruit-evaporating apparatus of various constructions exhibited at the Exposition of the German Association of Agriculturists, held recently in Cologne. I noticed that the grates of all these apparatus were made of zinc. One exhibitor—Val. Waas, of Geisenheim-on-the-Rhine—prints in his prospectus that he is the sole manufacturer entitled to make the “Wander” evaporator used in the Royal Institute for Fruit and Wine Culture at Geisenheim. The trays of this so-called improved evaporator are made of zinc. This is highly interesting in view of the order issued by the municipal authorities of this city, as reported by me, which reads as follows:
It [the municipal order] asserts further that the presence of zinc is due to the fact that the apple slices from America are not dried, as is done here [in Germany], on wooden racks, but on zinc netting.
In the prospectus of Val. Waas, of Geisenheim, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, it will be observed that the yearly production of fruit evaporators by this firm is 4,000.[Page 314]
I may add here that since the municipal order has been issued I have noticed that some of the dealers in this city have marked “zinc free” on the cases of dried-apple slices they offer for sale, indicating that the apple slices do not contain any zinc.
It may be interesting to give, in this connection, a complete translation of the order issued by the municipal government, which is as follows:
american dried-apple slices.
There is an abundance of dried-apple slices, especially from America, offered for sale here that contain a larger or smaller quantity of zinc. Of thirteen samples selected for examination, eleven showed the presence of zinc. The presence of zinc is to be attributed to the drying of the apple slices in America on zinc netting instead of on wooden racks, as is done here. There is formed in the apples maltate of zinc, which has a similar action to that of lactate and sulphate of zinc. These compounds belong as medicaments to the so-called “Separanda” (poisons), and may be sold by apothecaries in very small quantities only when prescribed as medicine. According to the opinion of experts, the eating of such apples can undoubtedly be injurious to the health, especially when prepared as food for children and convalescent persons whose systems are not so capable of resistance. Even the presence of a very small percentage of maltate of zinc is very easily capable of producing a derangement of the health, consisting in affections of the stomach, vomiting, and, when often partaken of, in chronic lead poisoning. I am, therefore, obliged to give strict warning against the sale, purchase, and the eating of American dried-apple slices, and hereby make known to all who offer such article for sale that they will be proceeded against in accordance with the Imperial law regulating the trade in food and food products of May 14, 1879.
Some of the importers, believing the above to be an unfair discrimination against the American dried-apple slices, called upon the mayor and begged that a modification of the order be made, which was acceded to in a second announcement, as follows:
american dried-apple slices.
My publication of the 6th instant has, on various sides, given rise to the opinion that the use of American dried-apple slices was in every case injurious to the health and that the sale of this article was contrary to law. This is in no wise the case. On the contrary, the publication has no reference to American dried-apple slices which have not been dried on zinc plates and zinc wire netting, but on wooden racks and wickerwork, and which do not contain such an amount of zinc as would be injurious to health.
It will be observed that the above announcements seem to be directed solely against American dried-apple slices. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the matter is under investigation here as to whether the mere traces of zinc in the dried-apple slices are to be considered unwholesome, or whether their sale should only be allowed when they are entirely free of zinc.
The United States consul at Mayence has called my attention to an article published in the Frankfort Zeitung of the 31st of May last on the same subject, which, in English, reads as follows:
Frankfort, May 30.
In the court of justice. The sitting began with an objective proceeding, without any of the accused being present. The subject of the proceedings was apple slices which were confiscated by the police authorities last autumn in various provision stores here (Frankfort) and in Roedelheim. According to the opinion of Dr. Homeyer and Health Councilor (Sanitätsrath) Dr. Klingelhœffer, these American apple slices are injurious to health on account of the admixture of acetate of zinc, as this admixture, which is intended to give them a bright color, produces vomiting and diarrhea in children and digestive derangements in adults.
The court orders the confiscation of this article on account of its injurious quality, for which the sellers are not held responsible.
In conclusion, I am informed that the dried-apple slices sold here are almost exclusively from the United States; and, since this cry against their unwholesomeness, the importers are taking care in placing only a “zinc-free” article in the market. In a recent conversation with Dr. Jacobsthal, a sworn chemist to the court here, he says that the samples submitted to him last May by the city authorities here for analysis were all “zinc free.”
I am, etc.,