Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/797

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
777
THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

flow down a single channel, it would form a respectable little rivulet. An interesting example of the self-adjusting operation of demand and supply is presented by the fact that, without any special legislation or any dictating official, the quantity required should thus flow with so little excess that, in spite of its perishable qualities, little or none is spoiled by souring, and yet at any moment anybody may buy a pennyworth within two or three hundred yards of any part of the great metropolis. There is no record of any single day on which the supply has failed, or even been sensibly deficient.

This is effected by drawing the supplies from a great number of independent sources, which are not likely to be simultaneously disturbed in the same direction. Coupled with this advantage is a serious danger. It has been unmistakably demonstrated that certain microbia (minute living abominations) which disseminate malignant diseases may live in milk, feed upon it, increase and multiply therein, and by it be transmitted to human beings with very serious and even fatal results.

I speak the more feelingly on this subject, having very recently had painful experience of it. One of my sons went for a holiday to a farm-house in Shropshire, where many happy and health-giving holidays have been spent by all the members of my family. At the end of two or three weeks he was attacked by scarlet fever, and suffered severely. He afterward learned that the cow-boy had been ill, and further inquiry proved that his illness was scarlet fever, though not acknowledged to be such; that he had milked before the scaling of the skin that follows the eruption could have been completed, and it was therefore, most probable, that some of the scales from his hands fell into the milk. My son drank freely of uncooked milk, the other inmates of the farm drinking home-brewed beer, and only taking milk in tea or coffee hot enough to destroy the vitality of fever-germs. He alone suffered. This infection was the more remarkable, inasmuch as a few months previously he had been assisting a medical man in a crowded part of London where scarlet fever was prevalent, and had come in frequent contact with patients in different stages of the disease.

Had the milk from this farm been sent to London in the usual manner in cans, and the contents of these particular cans mixed with those of the rest received by the vender, the whole of his stock would have been infected. As some thousands of farms contribute to the supplying of London with milk, the risk of such contact with infected hands occurring occasionally in one or another of them is very great, and fully justifies me in urgently recommending the manager of every household to strictly enforce the boiling of every drop of milk that enters the house. At the temperature of 212° the vitality of all dangerous germs is destroyed, and the boiling-point of milk is a little above 212°. The temperature of tea or coffee, as ordinarily used,