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JAMA 100 Years Ago
February 11, 2009


JAMA. 2009;301(6):678. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.55

The referee board appointed by President Roosevelt to review some of the decisions made by the Bureau of Chemistry, according to press reports, has reversed the findings of Dr. Harvey W. Wiley regarding the harmfulness of benzoate of soda as a food preservative. The first question to engage the attention of this board was that dealing with the influence of sodium benzoate on the nutrition and health of man; the larger—and to the public, the more important—question as to the fraud which the use of this chemical permits manufacturers to impose on the consumer, has not yet been dealt with. Briefly stated, the referee board—the scientific statements and unimpeachable reputation of whose personnel requires that its decisions be given the most thoughtful consideration—has, in a series of experiments on “poison squads” extending over a period of four months, reached results diametrically opposite to those arrived at by Dr. Wiley in a similar series of experiments which he conducted for nearly a year.

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