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Inspector of Milk

from the Annual Report of the Boston Inspector of Milk (1871)

Engraving of a New York City inspector at a grocery store testing milk with a lactometer, c.1887
A New York City inspector at a grocery store testing milk with a lactometer, c.1887.
from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (10 Dec 1887), image from collection of Maggie Land Blanck. (source)

[p.5] The first act to punish fraud in the sale of adulterated milk was passed by the general court of this State [Massachusetts] during the winter of 1856.

This act gave any person the power to make complaint and to prosecute to final judgment in our courts, for violation of its provisions; but, as far as is known, no complaints were made.

To carry out the intent of this law, it was necessary that some person should be appointed who would devote his whole time and energies to the duties of the office, so as fully to meet the requirements of the act, and to protect the consumers of milk from imposition.

During the summer of 1858, much complaint was made by our citizens in regard to the gross adulteration of a large proportion of the milk sold within the limits of our city, and some of our physicians thought that ‘the increased mortality of small children could be readily traced to this adulteration.

[p.6] At the assembling of the general court in the winter of 1859, many interested parties, viz, citizens, milk producers, and some of the Boston milkmen, used their influence to cause a new law to be enacted, which should provide for the appointment of Inspectors of Milk, carefully defining their duties, etc. A law was readily passed, and it was approved by the governor, April 6, 1859.

On the 10th of August, 1859, the Boston office was established. At this time one or two inspectors had been appointed in some of the smaller cities, but only in connection with other duties, so that little or nothing had been done to carry out the requirements of the law. So far as we can learn, Boston was the pioneer in the establishment, on this continent, of an office exclusively devoted to the detection of, and conviction and punishment for, the sale of adulterated milk. To this end, during the past year, your inspector has given his time and attention to visiting private families, stores, and shops, and also the cars employed in bringing milk to Boston.

Image, not in original text, added from source shown above. Text from Boston City Government, City Document No. 24, Twelfth Annual Report of the Inspector of Milk (1871), 5. Collected in Documents of the City of Boston (1872), Vol. 1. (source)


Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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