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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/65

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57
FOOD POISONING.

will be sterilized, and then selected molds and bacteria will be sown in it. In this way the flavor and value of a cheese will be determined with scientific accuracy, and will not be left to accident.

Canned Foods.—As has been stated, the increased consumption of preserved foods is accountable for a great proportion of the cases of food poisoning. The preparation of canned foods involves the application of scientific principles, and since this work is done by men wholly ignorant of science it is quite remarkable that harmful effects do not manifest themselves more frequently than they do. Every can of food which is not thoroughly sterilized may become a source of danger to health and even to life. It may be of interest for us to study briefly the methods ordinarily resorted to in the preparation of canned foods. With most substances the food is cooked before being put into the can. This is especially true of meats of various kinds. Thorough cooking necessarily leads to the complete sterilization of the food; but after this, it must be transferred to the can, and the can must be properly closed. With the handling necessary in canning the food, germs are likely to be introduced. Moreover, it is possible that the preliminary cooking is not thoroughly done and complete sterilization is not reached. The empty can should be sterilized. If one wishes to understand the modus operandi of canning foods, let him take up a round can of any fruit, vegetable, or meat and examine the bottom of the can, which is in reality the top during the process of canning and until the label is put on. The food is introduced through the circular opening in this end, now closed by a piece which can be seen to be soldered on. After the food has been introduced through this opening the can and contents are heated either in a water bath or by means of steam. The opening through which the food was introduced is now closed by a circular cap of suitable size, which is soldered in position.

This cap has near its center a "prick-hole" through which the steam continues to escape. This "prick-hole" is then closed with solder, and the closed can again heated in the water bath or with steam. If the can "blows" (if the ends of the can become convex) during this last heating the "prick-hole" is again punctured and the heated air allowed to escape, after which the "prick-hole" is again closed. Cans thus prepared should be allowed to stand in a warm chamber for four or five days. If the contents have not been thoroughly sterilized gases will be evolved during this time, or the can will "blow" and the contents should be discarded. Unscrupulous manufacturers take cans which have "blown," prick them to allow the escape of the contained gases, and then resterilize the cans with their contents, close them again, and put them