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i UN'TED STATES
A- I B R A >T
OF|Fjefe c bF
HOUSEKEEPERS 1 CHAT
Monday, October 19, 1936
(FOR BROADCAST USE ONLY)
Subject: "THE McNARY MAPSS AMENDMENT. " Facts from the Federal Food and Drug
Administration, United States Department of Agriculture.
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Everybody who uses a can opener will be interested in today's report from
the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Our correspondent is discussing standards
of quality for such canned foods as peaches and pears and peas, tomatoes, apricots,
Also, she explains how the Government scientists test the tenderness of
canned peas, with a so-called "false-teeth" machine, and how they test the color
of canned tomatoes to see whether the product is the real red of ripe tomatoes or
the yellowish red of unripe tomatoes.
But first, a little background information, so we'll understand why the
jovernment makes these tests for consumers.
"Six years ago," writes our correspondent, "in July 193^ Congress passed the
ilcNary Mapes Amendment to the Food and Drugs Act. The canners themselves asked for
this Amendment, to protect the canning industry from the competition of substandard
products not labeled to show that they were substandard, and to protect consumers
against unwittingly buying this sort of stuff.
"The McNary Mapes Amendment gives the Secretary of Agriculture power to
establish a minimum standard of quality for each kind of canned food except milk
and meat products. As soon as the Secretary has established a minimum standard
of quality for a certain canned food, that food must measure up to the require-
nents — or else carry certain facts on the label so that the housewife will know
vhen she is not getting a standard quality of food.
"So far, the Secretary has established minimum standards for canned peaches,
pears, peas, dry peas, tomatoes, apricots, and cherries. Now .... let's consider
:omatoes, since they're one of the most popular of all canned products. Ever/ can
)f tomatoes that does not measure up to the Government standards must say so. The
Label must state: 'Below U. S. Standard.' Following this line, 'Below U. 3.
Standard,' there must be another statement, assuring consumers that below-standard
:anned foods are wholesome , even though they are of low quality or grade.
"Now there's another requirement under the McNary-Mapes Amendment. It is
;hat slack-filled canned goods must carry a line reading: 'Below U. S. Standard —
Slack Fill.' And if the canned goods contains an excessive amount of liquid, that
feet also must be printed on the label, in these words: 'Contains Excessive Added
"So read all the information on the label, homemakers, when you buy canned
apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, tomatoes, and peas. You'll know whetncr you're
iuying food that measures up to the Government standards of quality, or food that
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is below standard, or slack filled. Of course whichever you buy is wholesome —
Otherwise it couldn't be sold at all.
"And bear in mind," continues our reporter, "that the Food and Drug Adminis-
tration provides for only one standard of quality for these canned foods, and that
is a minimum standard — a low one. There 1 s a wide range in quality above this
minimum, but the law does not provide for any labeling to classify canned goods
above the standard. Grades above the standard are permissive — not compulsory. "
Now let's see how the Federal food men actually go about testing such pro-
ducts as canned tomatoes and canned peas — to see whether they should be labeled
"The other day," says our correspondent, "I watched a Government chemist
examine 2k cans — a regular size sample — of canned tomatoes. They represented
a consignment suspected of being not ripe enough for canning — too light in color
to meet the Government standards, although they were not labeled substandard.
"The chemist opened each can separately, drained the can exactly two minutes,
and then weighed out half the drained weight — the poorest colored half. He ground
the tomato pulp rather fine, put it in a saucer, and took this sample to a 'dark
room. 1 In the dark room is a remarkable machine called a 'color comparitor. 1 The
chemist, by juggling a series of colored discs until they blended into the same
color as that of the tomatoes, soon matched the sample, and was able to 'read' the
color. Translated into ordinary terms for the sake of Your Correspondent, the color
was a light yellow red — certainly not the color we associate with ripe tomatoes.
"I didn't stand by while the chemist examined all 2k cans of tomatoes,"
says our reporter, "but they all looked more yellow than red to me. I won't be
at all surprised to learn that this particular lot of tomatoes will not appear on
the market again, until they, have been labeled substandard.
"Now, about the machine that measures the tenderness of canned peas — and _
goes by the inelegant name of 'false-teeth' machine. This instrument measures the
pressure required to crush a pea to one- fourth its original size. A pea from the
can under test is put under a plunger, and more and more force is exerted on the
plunger by pouring mercury into a hopper on top of the plunger. The tougher the .
pea, the more mercury required to crush it. It took considerable mercury to crush
some of the peas the chemists were testing the day I watched them," says our cor-
respondent. "In fact, they were about the toughest peas I'd ever seen. I was
glad the Food and Drug inspectors had removed them from the market before I gat
around to buying this particular brand.
"Nowadays," (still quoting), "when canned peas are taken off the market ;
because they are substandard and not so labeled, you may be quite sure the cans
contain excessive amounts of over-mature peas. The peas were pretty tough to begin
with, though cooking under pressure may have made them tender enough to cheat the
'false-teeth' machine. However, the telltale starch is still there. Further, it
may cause the tough peas to rupture and thus betray themselves.
"This is the basis of another test for canned peas — a chemical test in-
volving the amount of starch they contain. Tender green peas in the pod — young
peas — contain very little starch. The older they grow, the more starch they
contain. According to Government standards mature vegetables composed of more
than approximately one-fourth starch are too old for canning."
And that concludes today's report on the McNary Mapes Amendment to the Pure
Food law, and a few of the methods the Government uses to test canned foods.
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