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doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e31829e3fe7
Anesthesiology Reflections from The Wood Library-Museum

From Chloroform to Extract of Meat: Chemist and Entrepreneur Liebig

Bause, George S. M.D., M.P.H.

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Nine years after independently discovering chloroform, Baron Justus von Liebig synthesized a meat substitute in 1840 that was eventually marketed as “Liebig’s Extract of Meat.” A Belgian engineer encouraged Liebig to open a processing plant in Fray Bentos, Uruguay, to generate the extract from cattle carcasses otherwise underutilized after processing for leather. In a time period before refrigeration when meat costs were high, this German–Belgian–Uruguayan collaboration prospered. As part of its advertising campaign, the company produced a colorful series of collectible trading cards. “Extracted” from the final card (in a series of six saluting “The Life of Liebig”) are images of Baron Liebig himself (left) and of his factory in Uruguay (right). In 1979 the factory closed. It is now a museum celebrating how a German chemist and a Belgian engineer founded a company which economically revitalized the nation of Uruguay and nutritionally supplemented the diets of people worldwide. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.)

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