« PreviousContinue »
cattle. When he had concluded, Mr. Ganley, sales master, made an extraordinary statement. He said that, unless some means were devised to give the farmer some compensation for diseased cattle, it was impossible to prevent him from selling them, or the butcher from killing and selling them. Unless some society were formed to have diseased meat paid for, it would be killed and eaten. There was no use in mincing the matter; every one of the salesmen sold diseased cattle. The farmer could not otherwise pay his rent. The disease is so prevalent that he could not live were he to submit his cattle to destruction." Did the sale of this diseased meat lead to disease in the human frame? Of course, disease existed in very dif ferent proportions. To many, in most cases, it probably did no positive harm The heat and process of cooking purified, and what Mr. Simon called "the strong disinfectant chemistry of digestion" deprived it of much of its danger. Still, the positive existence of disease communicated by diseased meat was very strong. He would read one or two extracts bearing on this point:-" Professor Maclagan, of the University of Edinburgh, stated at a public meeting held in Edinburgh on the 29th of January, 1862, that in his practice, both as a physician and a toxicologist, he had met with instances in which several persons had been attacked simultaneously with irritant symptoms after having in common partaken of meat which on being examined was found to contain no poison, nor to be in that state of putrescence which, as is well known, occasionally confers upon animal matters actively poisonous properties." Dr. Alfred S. Taylor, F.R S., in a letter of the 12th of January, 1863, said :—“ As a general principle, I think diseased meat noxious and unfit for human food." He moreover adds:"In the course of my practice I have met with several cases of poisoning which appeared to be attributable to diseased or decomposed meat-more frequently the latter. I can at present recall to my recollection only two fatal cases-one from diseased mutton, the sheep having had the staggers, and one from German sausages. Animal food has been frequently sent to me with a view to the detection of poison, the persons sending it having the impression that from the vomiting and purging produced poison must have been mixed with it. No poison has, however, been found to justify this suspicion "—Dr. Letheby stated:-"My opinion of the injurious effects of diseased meat on the health of those who make use of it is very decided. I have seen so much mischief from it that I do not hesitate for one moment to say that some legislative measure is most pressingly wanted to prevent, not only the traffic in diseased meat, but also to prevent the slaughtering of diseased animals. Such regulations are now in operation everywhere on the continent, and they are much needed here. In the city markets alone my officers seize from one to two tons of diseased meat every week. Last year we seized 110,046b of meat, of which 78,697b were diseased, and 13,9441b from animals that had died. We often pursue the offenders into a court. of justice, and have them fined or imprisoned; but I feel that the mischief should be stopped before it reaches the markets. Officers are wanted to examine the cattle before they are slaughtered. As to the effects of such meat on the human subject, I have seen many cases of illness from it. One of these is sufficiently important to bring under your notice. In the month of November, 1860, a part of a diseased cow was bought in Newgate market. It came from one of the cow-houses in London. It was bought by a sausage maker of Kingsland, and as is commonly the case with very bad meat, it was made up into sausages. Sixtysix persons partook of the sausages, and sixty four of them were made very ill. They were purged, became sick, giddy, and the vital powers were seriously prostrated, and they lay in many cases for hours in a state of collapse, like people with cholera. One man died, and I was requested by the coroner to inquire into the matter. I obtained some of the sausages, thinking that a mineral poison might be present, but I could discover none; and the whole history of the case showed that it was diseased meat which had done the work. Again, Dr. Livingstone tells us that whenever the natives of Africa eat the flesh of an animal that has died from pleuro-pneumonia, no matter how the flesh is cooked, they suffer from carbuncle. Now, it is a very remarkable fact that boils and carbuncles have been most prevalent in this country for several years past. The Registrar-General for Scotland has drawn attention to this fact." And Professor Gamgee said:-"My own observations confirm the opinions of the eminent authorities just quoted I have known in many instances where meat supplied to students in lodging-houses in this city
has led to vomiting, purging, and severe colic. In the majority of instances such meat was cooked in the form of beefsteak. Three of my own students were affected simultaneously one day in December last. Within a couple of hours after dinner they experienced colicky pains, purging, vomiting, and these symptoms lasted several hours. Bread, potatoes, and water were the only other materials they had partaken of at dinner. On another occasion two were affected, but did not attribute the injury to the steak until the next day, when the servant ate what had been left of the meat, and suffered severely." But whether or no diseased meat was poisonous, he thought there could hardly be a question that it must be of an innutritious character. On whom, then, did that evil chiefly fall? Not on the rich, but on the poor, who had the greatest need of nutritious food. Last year he had the honour of passing a Bill for the regulation of bakehouses; and in reading up the evidence on that subject he found that in many large towns bread was baked which contained two-thirds of matter that was not nutritious; and so it was with meat. He need not use another argument to show the necessity of very urgent inquiry upon this subject.
Mr. C. W. PACKE said the hon. gentleman had not only drawn a very true, but a very melancholy picture of the disease among cattle in this country. He had also referred to one reason why there was so much disease among cattle. According to hon. gentlemen opposite, free-trade had been very beneficial to this country, but, as regards disease in cattle, it had been a great curse. That disease was not known before the importation of foreign cattle in 1844. The consequences had been most serious, not only to farmers and graziers, but also to consumers. He was very glad the bill was to be sent to a select committee upstairs.
Mr. CAIRD thought it would be wrong to attribute the increase of disease solely to the introduction of foreign cattle; they should bear in mind the highly artificial state in which they now kept and fed cattle. The high price of butcher's meat had a tendency to encourage farmers to develop to the utmost the power of producing meat, and cattle were now brought to market sometimes at the end of twelve months or two years, and very seldom at the end of three or four. He had no hesitation in saying that to this circumstance, much more than to the importation of foreign cattle, they ought to attribute the greater liability of cattle to disease. The great probability of injury from diseased meat had been referred to; he attributed the increased area of consumption to the higher wages of the working people, and there was now a higher standard of health throughout the country. The authority of Professor Gamgee had been several times quoted, but, although he would say nothing against his ability, the introduction of a schedule relating to foot and mouth disease was no evidence of there being a real practical authority engaged in the preparation of the Bill. It must also be borne in mind that there was a great difference between a store-market, where lean cattle were bought for keeping, and a stock-market, where the fat cattle were almost immediately slaughtered. It was alleged that there would be a difficulty in inspecting cattle at the ports of departure in Ireland and Scotland: but even if it could be done, if the cattle on arrival in London were found to be suffering from disease contracted during the journey, it would be a hardship upon the owners to destroy their property, which had passed the original inspection. A bill of a somewhat similar character had been proposed some years back, and was referred to a select committee, who, after hearing evidence, decided that it was inexpedient to legislate in the manner proposed.
Mr. HOLLAND reminded the hon. member for Leicestershire that long before foreign cattle were imported into this country very extensive disease had prevailed among our cattle. He might mention as an instance the murrain which prevailed in the middle of the last century, and which was so remarkable as to be mentioned in a royal speech.
Mr. Alderman SALOMONS, as a magistrate of London, had had experience of the great extent to which the trade in unsound meat was carried on in the metropolis, notwithstanding all the efforts of the corporation to repress it. The present law was inadequate to meet the evil, and something should be done to put an end to practices which were so injurious to the public.
Sir M. S. STEWART feared that the bill, if passed in its present shape, would completely paralyse the operations of the farmers and graziers of Scotland, and therefore ample time should be allowed for them to consider it.
Mr. HENLEY hoped it would be understood that the committee would be allowed to take evidence, and would not merely be limited to a consideration of these bills. (Mr. Bruce assented.) The statement of the Under Secretary was of so grave a nature, that if it were well founded that so large a proportion of meat consumed in this country was diseased, very serious inquiry was needed. (Hear, hear.) He saw an enormous evil stated to exist, and he feared there would be found great difficulty in deciding how to deal with it. If the disease was imported from abroad, he was sorry that the evil had not been met by stopping the importation of foreign cattle. Inspection on arrival was not an easy task, for lung disease in an incipient state could only be detected by auscultation, and a nice treat it must be for an inspector to go about with a stethoscope among a herd of wild bullocks. (Laughter.)
The bills were then respectively read a second time, and ordered to be referred to a select committee.
REMARKS OF THE PRESS.
(From the DAILY TELEGRAPH.)
DINNER is a very serious institution in England, and one upon which so much depends, that we are half afraid to disseminate the truths revealed on Wednesday by Mr. Bruce to a miserable House of Commons which had not dined. Shall we also utterly destroy the appetite of the British people, or shall we leave ignorance to be bliss? Shall we turn our own stomachs and those of the public by some plain facts about food, or shall we shut our mental eyes and blindfold theirs while we mutually take "another slice of the undercut?" It is one of the hardest problems to solve which have ever presented themselves; if we summon up courage to tell the truth, what will become of Oh, the roast beef of Old England, and oh, the Old English roast beet?" Oh, indeed!-a world of dismal meaning is contained in that lyric interjection, for we are told that this same national comestible and “tood of Heaven is slowly poisoning, along with measly pork and mangy mutton, the entire body politic. Yes, we must act the part of Sancho Panza's physician at Barataria, and sternly order from the table the dishes that are so appetising to a hard-set Briton. "Beef-steak and oyster sauce"? Don't think of it, we say! The beef may have been a bullock that died of pleuro-pneumonia after his arrival from Holland, and the lungs may have been full of fetid matter and poison by the pint measure. "Loin of pork with apple-sauce," does the hungry public hopefully suggest? Let it alone, good public! That pork, when a pig, may have died a dry death of hydatids in his liver, and all his flesh, whether disguised with culinary arts or buried in the oblivion of a sausage-skin, may be full of Trichina spiralis, a little worm, which is doing the business of his relative the grave-worm on living thousands. "Haunch of mutton; Welsh mutton, then," we hear the pensive public suggesting. Abjure it like the pestilence, is our reply; four per cent of our sheep perish annually of disease, and eight out of ten of these "casualty muttons" come to market. Will our readers still venture on a little bit with currant jelly? We tell them solemnly that that very haunch was, perhaps, "polished"-that is to say, being lean and flabby with foot disease or scab, a healthy sheep may have been killed with this one, and its fat rubbed over and into the rotton carcase to cheat the eye of purchasers, and give it the gloss of health. Listen to Mr. Bruce. Four million and a half pounds sterling is the value of the cattle which die yearly without the butcher's knife and poleaxe in England. Disease has spread so terribly among the flocks and herds, that the cattle insurance offices are at a standstill. În 1844, 3 per cent premium covered their payments, now they have raised the rates to 7 per cent, and are in difficulties, though they refuse Irish cattle altogether. Pleuropneumonia is the malady that decimates our fields and stockyards most, and Professor Gamgee estimates that, with this and other ailments, a fifth of all the meat sold is tainted. Of 1,839 dairy cows in Edinburgh during 1862, 791 were sold to butchers, after their milk had been sapping the health of young and old; in Dublin, out of 315 sickened cows, 161 went to the slaughter-house. In London a far greater number are distributed over our households, although Dr. Letheby's men seize on tons of putrid meat weekly. The graziers or salesmen can get £8 or £10 for a carcase, rotten but presentable, and they will not resist the temptation.
Mr. Ganley, a salesmaster, made this comfortable statement at Dublin. He said that, "unless some means were devised to give the farmer some compensation for diseased cattle, it was impossible to prevent him from selling them, or the butcher from killing and selling them. Unless some society were formed to have diseased meat paid for, it would be killed and eaten. There was no use in mincing the matter; every one of the salesmen sold diseased cattle. The farmer could not otherwise pay his rent. The disease is so prevalent, that he could not live were he to submit his cattle to destruction." And, more norrible still, the organs actually diseased-pleural sacs and lungs and livers dripping with the fetid fluid of thoracic disease are sent to the sausage-machine, and go forth from it in thousands to put "death in the pot."
After this, then, "let us eat, drink, and digest-for to-morrow we die." It is a choice between a Vegetarian diet, starvation, and the certainty of some day coming across one of these "polished" carcases; which is no more to be avoided at the wellsupplied table of the club or private mansion, than at the cheap dining-room or cottage board. Who can tell what diseases owe their origin to such wholesale poisoning; the blood is subtle to take up nourishment and venom alike, life or death; and more than one cruel and prevalent malady among us may be due to the inveterate seeds of disease eaten with our repasts. The Trichina of which we have spoken has already depopulated towns and villages in Germany with a loathsome disease, derived from pork. But, asks the public, is not the peril exaggerated? Does not digestion, after cooking, neutralise the foul or dangerous elements of this fifth of our flesh meat? The question is our last mutual resource, and it may be put, because one sees whole nations like the Burmese living upon stinking fish and the flesh of dead animals, without any more immediate effect than a coarse and stunted physique. But instinct rebels against the consolation, and science supports instinct. Professor Maclagan declares himself familiar with meat poisoning. Dr. Taylor deposes to fatal results from the consumption of apparently good meat, and has frequently received dishes to analyse for drugs which contained nothing but the latent poison of disease. Dr. Letheby, who seized last year 110,046 lbs. weight of meat, filthy in reality, but often otherwise good-looking enough, describes an instance of its effect. In the month of November, 1860, a part of a diseased cow was bought in Newgate market. It was purchased by a sausage-maker of Kingsland, and made up into sausages. Sixty-six persons partook of the sausages, and sixty-four of them were made very ill. They were purged, became sick, giddy, the vital powers were seriously prostrated, and they lay in many cases for hours like people with cholera. One man died, and some of the sausages were examined, to find if a mineral poison might be present; but there was none; and the whole history of the case showed that it was diseased meat which had done the work. Nor is the example of the Burmese, Kamschatkans, and other foul feeders worth much against pleuropneumonia. Mr. Bruce quoted Dr. Livingstone, who says that when the Africans eat the flesh of cattle dead of this pest, however dressed, they are attacked with carbuncle; and we close the argument, with a shudder, by repeating the fact that carbuncle and carbuncular boils have been extremely prevalent in England for just that period during which cattle disease has been so marked.
What is to be done then, seeing that Nature, in giving us an appetite for cutlets, canine teeth, a short duodenum, and one stomach only, clearly meant us to be carnivorous? To appeal to the graziers and butchers and salesmen is useless: we have done it once and again in these columns; and, for the sake of the price per sickly carcase, they go on merrily murdering us. Mr. Bruce's measure does not pretend to probe the evil to its horrid depths; he merely wishes to extend the provisions of the Acts relating to foreign cattle to those from Ireland and Scotland, and to make certain sanitary regulations regarding the purification of the ships and trucks in which the beasts are conveyed. So far his bill is extremely salutary, and we cannot doubt that its details will be confirmed, as its principle has been. It is a fact that at present the foulest herds which come to market are not from Holland and France and other foreign countries, but from the sister kingdoms. In spite, therefore, of Mr. Henley's despairing picture of a cattle-inspector moving about with a stethoscope among a crowd of Kerry cows or Highland steers, we must extend examination and prevention to our home importations. But we have Acts giving this power as regards foreign herds, and they are almost helpless: the disease
is latent; it does not break out till the filthy cattle-deck and forced marches of the poor beasts have done their work, and the oxen are in the pastures. It almost seems as if there were no alternative between being poisoned wholesale, infected with frightful maladies in our festal moments, or making the offer of foul meat for sale a felony with penal servitude, and appointing inspectors to stamp every carcase that is cut up.
(From the TIMES.)
PARASITIC DISEASES IN ANIMALS.-The police reports frequently afford evidence of the extent to which sheep, cattle, and pigs, which are suffering from disease, are slaughtered and disposed of for human food; but they naturally give no indication of the mischief which results to the public from the consumption of the flesh of animals so corrupted. Much valuable information upon this subject has been collected in the course of inquiries instituted by Mr. John Gamgee, principal and professor of the Edinburgh New Veterinary College, under the direction of the Medical Department of the Privy Council, the results of which are published in the form of an appendix to the report of Mr. Simon, the medical officer of that department.
Opinions upon the subject of parasitism have within recent times undergone considerable changes. Now it has been ascertained that parasites are not generated in certain morbid conditions, nor do they exist in animals to excite the normal functions of their organs. "They are offensive products foreign to the bodies of the men and animals they afflict, and dependent entirely for their development on the introduction of germs into bodies suited to their growth, protection, and reproduction." A few parasites, it is true, exist in or on all human beings and animals; but the greater portion cause actual disease, and often produce maladies of a very fatal nature. They are living and moving bodies, and in their peregrinations through the system or in their movements in a part in which they are lodged, they induce great derangement, and sometimes kill. The parasites which especially engaged Mr. Gamgee's attention belonged to the three orders of cystocestoid or tapeworms, nematoid or round worms, and hematoid or sucking worms, by all of which human beings are with more or less frequency afflicted, and which they derive mainly, if not entirely, from the domestic animals.
The most common, if not the most dangerous of these parasites, is the tapeworm or tænia solium. Every tapeworm existing in human bowels was once a cysticercus or other hydatid nested either in the living muscle or some other texture of an animal which is used for food. Although these larvæ cannot outlive being cooked, it is probable that some of them survive the processes by which the flesh of pigs is cured, and may be swallowed alive by persons who eat uncooked sausage, ham, or bacon. It is not, however, by the direct consumption of the tissues in which they are embedded that the larvæ are usually introduced into the human system. Probably the process is much more commonly that described by Mr. Simon. "Dogs," he says, and other animals which get opportunities of eating the raw offal of slaughterhouses are constantly swallowing live larvæ, which afterwards become mature tapeworms within them. The mature tapeworm holding fast by its head to the mucous membrane of its host's intestine, sheds from its other end the successive egg-bearing joints which it develops there; and wherever the tapeworm-lodging animal passes these fertile fragments get dropped in all directions with excrement, and lead, of course, to a wide and dangerous dispersion of eggs. Often the eggs must find their way into sources of drinking water, or on to various low-growing vegetables or fruits, which are apt to be consumed in an uncooked state by man; and if with any such vehicle man swallows a live tapeworm egg he immediately has the egg hatched within him, and now in his turn suffers from the larval form of the parasite."
It is in Iceland that the diseases which are due to the various stages of develop ment of different kinds of tapeworm prevail to the greatest extent, both among men and cattle; and numerous experiments, conducted in that island, have established the agency of the dog in the dissemination of the plague; for plague that may well be called which, according to Dr. Hjaltalin, the well-known head of the Medical Board at Reykjavik, causes one-fifth of the mortality. Notwithstanding the unpleasant symptoms induced by the mature tapeworm in man, they are exceeded in