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MONG the subjects relating to the public health which should interest every citizen, that of the sale of diseased meats is of prime importance, and merits especial attention. We read the weekly reports of the health authorities and of the police, of the amount of diseased meat which they seize and remove, and though astonished at the enormous aggregate, are accustomed to believe that the whole has been removed from the market. But such is not the case. We should come nearer the truth did we estimate the amount removed as the hundreth, and perhaps thousandth, part which finds its way to the tables of the laboring classes, who are compelled to buy the cheaper class of meats. Since the introduction of railroads, the increase of diseased stock in our markets has been very marked. Not only does easy transportation facilitate the conveyance of diseased animals, which would otherwise be allowed to die in the country, but many healthy animals are SO bruised in transit that, when slaughtered, large subcutaneous abscesses are are disclosed. Formerly stock reached the markets of large cities
only by the slow process of foot-traveling, but this necessitated the feeding of animals at proper intervals, in order that they might retain their flesh. They thus reached their destination by easy marches, foot-sore perhaps, but never reduced in flesh, nor weak from suppurating sores. In railway transportation the whole system is changed. The stock is crowded into open cars, often hundreds of miles distant, exposed to the weather, unable to lie down, jammed with violence against the sides of the cars by the motion of the train or the crowding of others; and to add to this cruelty, deprived of food and water until they are slaughtered. Observation confirms our conclusions, that few, very few, perfectly healthy animals are now slaughtered in our large cities; but as yet no sufficient inquiry has been made to determine the extent of this evil. In England, where due importance is attached to every cause or measure affecting the public health, the subject of diseased meats has attracted great attention, and a bill has been introduced into Parliament designed to effect the desired reform. From a speech in Parliament, by Mr. Bruce, some instructive facts were developed in regard to the diseases of cattle. He stated that statistical tables show that in the six years from 1855 to 1860 inclusive, the average annual mortality among cattle was nearly five per cent.; the annual death-rate for sheep is estimated at four per cent. In regard to pigs, the
estimated loss in Ireland is ten per cent.; in England and Scotland it is much less. The most fatal of diseases is pleuro-pneumonia, from which at least half of the cattle died. He stated that an enormous mass of diseased meat, in various stages of disease, is annually sold. What the precise quantity is it would of course be difficult to estimate. Professor Gamgee estimated it at one-fifth. There is no conclusive evidence on the subject, although there is ample evidence that the quantities are very large, not only of meat killed while cattle were diseased, but of cattle which had died without the aid of the butcher. Mr. Bruce took the case where the figures were beyond dispute. The deaths in dairies are most numerous. In Edinburgh Professor Gamgee gave returns from eighty-eight dairies, and states that he found that out of 1,839 cows kept, 1,075 were sold diseased, of which 791 were sold to butchers, and 284 to be consumed by pigs. In nine dairies in Dublin, on an average of twenty years, out of 315 cows, 161 were sold diseased. Professor Gamgee says:
"In London I have seen butchers in private slaughterhouses dress extremely diseased carcasses and 'polish' the meat. This filthy practice consists in killing a good fat ox, at the same time that a number of lean and diseased animals are being killed. Boiling water is at hand, and when the lean animals have been skinned their flesh is rubbed over with fat from the healthy ox, and hot coths are used to keep the fat warm, and to distribute it over the carcass, that it may acquire an artificial gloss and an
appearance of not being totally deprived of fat. In Edinburgh I have seen sickly lambs without a particle of fat upon them dressed up with the fat of healthy sheep, much in the same way. From the private slaughterhouses in London I have known even the diseased organs themselves sent to the sausage-maker. In company with another member of my profession, I have seen a carcass dressed and portions of it prepared for sale as sausagemeat, and otherwise, although thoracic disease had gone to such an extent that gallons of fetid fluid were removed from the pleural sacs, and that large abscesses existed in the lungs."
In Edinburgh there were between one hundred and two hundred diseased cattle sold weekly in the market. At a meeting of the Royal Dublin Society, Mr. Ganley, salesmaster, 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." The deleterious effect of diseased meat upon the public health is established by the concurrent testimony of the best medical observers. Professor Maclagan, of the University of Edinburgh, stated at a public meeting held at 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., an eminent toxicologist, said:
"As a general principle, I think diseased meat noxious and unfit for human food. 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, Health Officer of London, 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