Cornhill Magazine,  2 (1860), 86–96.

Adulteration and its Remedy

[Arthur H Hassall]




Adulteration, Public Health, Chemistry, Microscopy, Wonder, Government, Medical Practitioners, Pharmaceuticals

People mentioned:

William Scholefield

Institutions mentioned:

Select Committee to Inquire into Adulteration of Food, Drinks and Drugs

Publications cited:

Hassall 1857

    The threat to public health posed by the 'strange, disgusting, and poisonous demon' (86) adulteration has recently been brought to 'almost universal attention' by the campaign waged by the Lancet (88). Traditionally, chemistry has been used for 'the detection of the various chemical substances and salts used for adulteration' (89), but more recently it has been surpassed by the microscope. The first applications of this 'wonder-revealing instrument [...] created no little surprise and alarm amongst the perpetrators of such frauds. Hundreds of sophistications were brought to light which had for years escaped discovery' (90). Lampoons the Parliamentary Bill for Preventing Adulteration of Articles of Food and Drink as 'weak, diluted, and itself adulterated' (96), and notes that it omits the adulteration of drugs by doctors whose 'best friends [...] prove to be the adulterator', a practice which introduces the 'greatest uncertainty and confusion' into medicine (91).

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