Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/798

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
778
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

may do it, but is not to be relied upon. I need only to refer generally to the cases of wholesale infection that have recently been traced to the milk of particular dairies, as the particulars are familiar to all who read the newspapers.

It is an open question whether butter may or may not act as a dangerous carrier of such germs; whether they rise with the cream, survive the churning, and nourish among the fat. The subject is of vital importance, and yet, in spite of the research-fund of the Royal Society, the British Association, etc., we have no data upon which to base even an approximately sound conclusion.

We may theorize, of course; we may suppose that the bacteria, bacilli, etc., which we see under the microscope to be continually wriggling about or driving along, are doing so in order to obtain fresh food from the surrounding liquid, and therefore that, if imprisoned in butter, they would languish and die. We may point to the analogies of ferment-germs which demand nitrogenous matter, and therefore suppose that the pestiferous wanderers can not live upon a mere hydrocarbon like butter. On the other hand, we know that the germs of such things can remain dormant under conditions that are fatal to their parents, and develop forthwith when released and brought into new surroundings. These speculations are interesting enough, but in such a matter of life and death to ourselves and our children we require positive facts, direct microscopic evidence.

In the mean time the doubt is highly favorable to boseh. To illustrate this, let us suppose the case of a cow grazing on a sewage-farm manured from a district on which enteric fever has existed. The cow lies down and its teats are soiled with liquid containing the germs which are so fearfully malignant when taken internally. In the course of milking, a thousandth part of a grain of the infected matter containing a few hundred germs enters the milk, and these germs increase and multiply. The cream that rises carries some of them with it, and they are thus in the butter, either dead or alive, we know not which, but have to accept the risk.

Now, take the case of bosch. The cow is slaughtered. The waste fat, that before the days of palm-oil and vaseline was sold for lubricating machinery, is skillfully prepared, made up into two-pound rolls, delicately wrapped in special muslin or prettily molded and fitted into "Normandy" baskets. What is the risk in eating this?

None at all, provided always the bosch is not adulterated with cream-butter. The special disease-germs do not survive the chemistry of digestion, do not pass through the glandular tissues of the follicles that secrete the living fat, and therefore, even though the cow should have fed on sewage-grass, moistened with infected sewage-water, its fat would not be poisoned.

What we require in connection with this is commercial honesty, that the thousands of tons of bosch now annually made be sold as