Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/167

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practically the same process as the ripening of cheese, with this distinction, that decomposition of cheese is allowed to go farther than decomposition of meat. It is also true, that the tastes of individuals differ largely. Game is usually considered best when decomposition has gone far beyond that of ripened meat, and when it has developed the so-called "gamey" flavor, which is the result of progressive decomposition. Putrid eggs are preferred to fresh eggs by the Chinese, and rancid butter to fresh butter in some tropic countries. Some cheeses are most palatable to many people when decomposition has gone so far as to produce decay. The cheese then contains considerable amounts of ammonia, a sure sign of advanced putrefaction. Virginia hams after two years' storage are considered at their best by connoisseurs.

It can readily be seen that it is difficult to establish a limit in a process and call it ripening, while the same process continued for some time would be called deterioration. All standards to-day are arbitrary in the light of our knowledge and the judgment of health officers is seriously taxed. It is obvious that it is largely a matter of opinion, and it is certain that much investigation, chiefly from a bacteriological point of view, is necessary before intelligent legislation can properly take care of cold storage. Recently a bill was introduced into the federal senate, which proposes to limit the time of cold storage of beef to 7 months; of pork and mutton to 4 months; of poultry, game, fish, eggs and butter to 3 months. By such limitation the very purpose of cold storage is defeated and, in the light of our knowledge of cold storage problems, entirely unjustified. Regulation of commercial cold storage should be attacked from two standpoints: (1) Cold storage warehouses should be subject to government inspection as to construction, ventilation, temperature and sanitary conditions. This inspection should also be extended to refrigerator cars. (2) All foods destined for cold storage should be inspected as meat is inspected at the present time.

Poultry should be placed in cold storage only when fresh and the killing should be done by the packer. It should be stored undrawn. Under a system of inspection there is no reasonable doubt but that food coming out of cold storage would be in as good condition as when going in. Legislation limiting cold storage is entirely out of place. It is true, that foods coming out of cold storage decompose more rapidly than fresh foods, not because—as has been suggested—fresh food is still "alive," but because the physical structure has been changed to some extent by freezing, rendering the food more accessible to bacterial invasion.

The cold storage warehouse is an all-important asset to modern economy, but the facilities are limited at present. It has been stated that in Greater New York about two million pounds of meat are kept in cold storage, while the weekly consumption of meat is 80 million