Close-up view of a polarimeter housed in a constant temperature dark room at the Bureau of Chemistry's Carbohydrate Laboratory. Part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Carbohydrate Laboratory analyzed the physical and chemical properties of sugars and their derivatives, as well as evaluated methods for preparing rare sugars and manufacturing syrups, sugars, and carbohydrate-containing products. In the sugar industry, polarimeters are commonly used to qualitatively measure the juice from sugar cane and refined sucrose.
The Bureau of Chemistry was established in 1901 through Congressional appropriations as a successor to the U.S.D.A. Division of Chemistry and significantly built upon the work of its predecessor, which researched the adulteration and misbranding of food and drugs on the American market. The 1906 Food and Drug Act notably increased the Bureau’s regulatory powers and led to the establishment of laboratories for testing the purity and composition of foods and drugs. In 1927, the Bureau of Chemistry effectively disbanded when its powers were reorganized under a new U.S.D.A. body, the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Organization (later the Food and Drug Administration).
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United States. Food and Drug Administration. “Polarimeter in Bureau of Chemistry Carbohydrate Laboratory,” n.d. USDA Bureau of Chemistry Photograph Collection, Box 1. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/qb98mf92z.
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