H.W. Ambruster and Contaminated Ergot

Letter from H.W. Ambruster to Laurence Howard Regarding  Ergot


"This advice to state officials was far more than callous indifference to official obligation. It was a direct challenge to law and order, and a defiance to public decency..."

Ergot, a fungus that grows on rye, was used as a medicine.  H.W. Ambruster was an importer of ergot. In order to increase the value of his product, he launched a campaign against "impure, adulterated, and rancid" ergot. His campaign looked like other pure food and drug campaigns at the time, but his accusations were false. The case was eventually brought before the Senate's Committee on Agriculture.

Telegram from H.W. Ambruster to Walter G. Campbell, U.S. Department of Agriculture

"KINDLY ADVISE ME BY WHAT RIGHT YOU AUTHORIZED OR INSTRUCTED YOUR SUBORDINATES TO ADVISE THE CONFERENCE OF NEW ENGLAND FOOD & DRUG OFFICIALS TO PUT IN THE WASTE BASKET MY COMMUNICATIONS."

Article from the New England Journal of Medicine Regarding Howard W. Ambruster and the Ergot Controversey

The New  England Journal of Medicine considered Ambruster's case.