Historical Notes from Naval Medicine 

James Cook and the Introduction of Lime Juice in the British Navy.

On the recommendation of David MacBride, author of Historical Account of a
New Method of Treating the Scurvy at Sea, containing ten cases which show
that this destructive disease may be easily and effectually cured without
the aid of fresh vegetable diet (1764), the British Admiralty issued 40
bushels of malt in hogsheads, together with portable soup, but only a few
bottles of rob of lemons for James Cook's first voyage in 1768.

     The ship's company had in general been very healthy owing in great
     measure to Sour Krout, Portable Soup and Malt; the first two were
     served to the people, the one on beef days and the other on banyan
     days. Wort was made of the malt and at the discretion of the
     Surgeon given to every man that had the least symptoms of scurvy
     upon him. By this means, and the care and vigilance of Mr
     Monkhouse the Surgeon, this disease was prevented from getting a
     footing in the ship.

Writing shortly before his death James Cook complained that:

     Every innovation whatever, tho ever so much to their advantage, is
     sure to meet with the highest disapprobation from Seamen: Portable
     Soup and Sour Krout were at first condemned by them as stuff not
     fit for human beings to eat. Few men have introduced into their
     ships more novelties in the way of victuals and drink than I have
     done. It has, however, in a great measure been owing to such
     little innovations that I have always kept my people generally
     speaking free from that dreadful distemper the Scurvy.

It is a little known fact that James Cook's report to the Admiralty based on
his experiences from his first and second voyages came to delay the
introduction of lemon juice (later lime juice) against scurvy in the Royal
Navy for twenty years or until 1795.