File No. 7661/24–27.
Chargé Wilson to
the Secretary of State.
Aires, October 17,
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 629, of
yesterday’s date, I have the honor to inclose herewith, as being of
possible interest to the Underwood Company, the reports, together with
translations of same, of three separate analyses made of the deviled ham
manufactured by that firm. Inclosure No. 3 is the final analysis made by
the Argentine Government, on the strength of which measures reported in
the above-mentioned dispatch No. 629 were adopted.
In this connection I have to request that I may be furnished, in case
further difficulties should arise in regard to the admittance of
Underwood’s deviled ham, with official copies of analyses made by the
United States Department of Agriculture of the samples of ham
transmitted to the department with my dispatches Nos. 606 and 613, dated
September 12 and 25, 1907, respectively.
At the request of Doctor Suarez, chief of the bureau of animal industry
here, I also beg to be informed as to the regulations in force in the
United States in regard to boric acid in meat products; i. e., whether
it is entirely prohibited, allowed in certain proportions, or whether no
regulations exist; as in case it is prohibited the fact that each tin of
Underwood’s deviled ham bears a certificate of inspection by the United
States authorities would have decided weight with the Argentine
authorities in allowing the admittance of this product without further
I am, etc.,
According to the declaration made by the chief of this office (Prensa
chemical laboratory), he has carried to the extreme, in the analysis
of deviled ham, the concentration of the mineral elements, and has
found traces of boric acid, but so insignificant that “mention of
them may be omitted.” This circumstance can in no way constitute an
argument against the article, which is entirely fit for
In the opinion of the above gentleman, the presence of these traces,
almost unappreciable, is due to retention, in the manufacture of
deviled ham, of the small pieces which are taken from the whole hams
prepared for exportation, in the preparation of which boric acid is
employed in order to hasten the curing. This is a satisfactory
enough explanation of the result obtained, but it can be stated with
certainty that boric acid has not been added to deviled ham in any
form, which, moreover, has sufficient elements of preservation for
its complete sterilization in appreciable quantities of salt, in the
spices, and in the application to the tins of the “Appert”
Buenos Aires, October 10,
Analysis of ham paste (deviled ham), submitted by Messrs. Laffitte
It has been presented in its original tin, perfectly sealed.
The state of preservation, color, aspect, and organism of the paste
The chemical analysis shows the absence of preservation substances
(acids—salicylic, boric, sulphuric—and their salts) and of toxic
metals (copper, lead, tin, mercury, arsenic, and antimony).
The microscopic examination shows it entirely free from pathogenic
germs and those of putrefaction.
Buenos Aires, October 15,
The result of the examination made of samples of deviled ham (A lot
A–4021 G. 2585–907) shows that it contains no boric acid.
In regard to this product, which we have examined numerous times with
different results, applying always the same method of investigation,
objections have been raised by the parties interested to the fact
that we have sometimes noted the presence of boric acid or its
compounds in appreciable quantity, other times only traces of this
substance, and, finally, in certain cases, as at present, none.
To what may these apparent differences be attributed? It may
naturally be understood that the interested parties claim that the
product which they sell is free from boric acid; nevertheless, I am
sure of the exactitude of the results which I have communicated, and
I understand that, although certain chemists outside of my
laboratory have not found in deviled ham the antiseptic referred to,
others have clearly proved its presence, so that there is no doubt
but that boric acid exists in some tins and not in others.
To explain this fact, it should be noted that the antiseptic in
question may well be found in the tinned ham without having been
added by the manufacturer, since it may exist in the meat used in
its preparation. In view of the nature of this product, which is a
paste of cooked salted meat, who can guarantee that the tins
received in one consignment have been filled with the same paste and
that the product of to-day is the same as that of to-morrow? It is
possible that the tins may be filled with salted meat containing
boric acid and in varying proportions, a frequent occurrence in the
country of its origin, and which may explain the differences noted
On the other hand, the meat cooked either by water or steam, loses in
the liquid an important quantity of the mineral substances used in
its preservation, [Page 32] so that
according to the contents before cooking and the conditions under
which this process is accomplished a result may be produced showing
varying quantities of boric acid—from traces which escape
investigation up to appreciable quantities.
Moreover, it can not be admitted that the results obtained in a first
examination are sufficient for the definite admission or rejection
of a product, for nobody can prove that the manufacturer may not
alter the product, and, furthermore, that the products which he
sells have been manufactured by him, so that it is not surprising if
in products bearing the same mark antiseptics are sometimes found
and sometimes not.