Punch, 38 (1860), 19.
A Put Down for the Poisonmongers
Adulteration, Nutrition, Crime, Narcotics, Analytical Chemistry, Charlatanry, Quackery, Commerce, Government
Argues that 'poisoning is as rife now as it was in the dark ages', although it now goes by the name of adulteration, and is practised by 'a host of Browns and Joneses' in 'course of ordinary business'. Discusses an extract from an article in The Times describing how some children had been poisoned by eating Bath buns, and deploring the fact that magistrates could not help one severely poisoned child because 'he had not been poisoned outright'. Goes on to lament that the confectioner had adulterated the buns with a poisonous dye (to make them appear 'extra rich') bought from a nearby chemist, who had 'a finger in the poisoned pie', since the dye was made from yellow arsenic rather than from chromate of lead. Echoes The Times's concern: 'who among us is safe?'. Shares the belief of a doctor from the Bristol School of Chemistry that adulterated food is responsible for many of the common 'chronic and dyspeptic' complaints. Goes on to argue that, since quack doctors make their livings from the latter complaints, they would oppose the 'punishment of poisonmongers'. Accordingly points out that if the government were to put down (with 'a police force of Poisoner-detectives') 'poisonmongery', 'quack-doctoring' would also be eradicated. Concludes by explaining that until such a provision is made, confectioners should be treated as 'vendors of dyspepsia' and foods as poisons. This article was published shortly before the first Food and Drugs Act of March 1860.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005-07
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