File No. 7661/24–27.

Chargé Wilson to the Secretary of State.

No. 630.]

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 analysis.

I am, etc.,

Charles S. Wilson.
[Page 31]
[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

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 consumption.

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” method.

[Inclosure 2.—Translation.]

Analysis of ham paste (deviled ham), submitted by Messrs. Laffitte and David.

It has been presented in its original tin, perfectly sealed.

The state of preservation, color, aspect, and organism of the paste are good.

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.

M. I. Nelson.
[Inclosure 3.—Translation.]

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 above.

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.

Respectfully, yours,