Mr. von Holleben to Mr. Hay.
Washington, March 10, 1899.
Mr. Secretary of State:
It is provided by the act making appropriations for the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900, which act was signed on the 1st instant by the President of the United States, that “the Secretary of Agriculture, whenever he has reason to believe that articles are being imported from foreign countries which are dangerous to the health of the people of the United States, shall make [Page 306] a request upon the Secretary of the Treasury for samples from original packages of such articles for inspection and analysis, and the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to open such original packages and deliver specimens to the Secretary of Agriculture for the purpose mentioned, giving notice to the owner or consignee of such articles, who may be present and have the right to introduce testimony, and the Secretary of the Treasury shall refuse delivery to the consignee of any goods which the Secretary of Agriculture reports to him to have been inspected and analyzed and found to be dangerous to health.”
As this measure, according to statements published in the press, extends to toys imported from Germany, I have the honor, in pursuance of instructions received from my Government, to beg your excellency kindly to inform me whether there are any legal provisions in the United States relative to the use of paint on toys, and, if so, what the nature of those provisions is.
As your excellency may perhaps be aware, the Imperial Government, as long ago as 1887, made provision, by a law bearing date of July 5 of that year, for the countries embraced in the German Empire, for the establishment of permanent rules for the toy industry, in default of a uniform opinion, even among experts, with regard to what was to be considered permissible or prohibited.
That law was published in the official journal of the Empire (Reichsgezetzblatt, No. 23, of July 9, 1887.
I have the honor herewith to inclose a circular relative to this matter, issued by the chamber of commerce and manufactures of Sonneberg, together with an inclosure containing the main provisions of said law, for your excellency’s information.
If there are no such positive provisions in the United States, I will thank your excellency for a statement whether these positive restrictions, which have been adopted in Germany as regards the use of paint on toys, as they appear from the aforesaid law, are considered sufficient by the United States Government.
I further desire to request your excellency to inform me of the result of any analyses that may have been made by the Department of Agriculture of toys imported from Germany.
Finally, it would be of interest to the Imperial Government to know what provisions have been adopted by the Federal Government and the governments of the individual States relative to the adulteration of articles of food and drink, which are referred to in the provision in question of the appropriation bill.
As regards the measures which have been adopted on this subject in the German Empire and the Federated States, and also as regards the provisions whereby inspection of alimentary substances in the Empire is secured, I would refer to the note of the foreign office at Berlin of March 18, 1887, to Mr. Edwin F. Uhl, at that time United States ambassador.