« back to encyclopedia search results
Adulteration of food
Over the centuries food has been constantly adulterated - from chalk, alum and bone-ashes being added to bread. Minced tripe, dyed red, might be sold as devilled ham, while in the U.S.A. North Dakota alone consumed ten times as much "Vermont" maple syrup as the state of Vermouth produced. Again in the States, Chicago meat packers used to kill rats with poisoned bread, and sometimes the dead rats, poisoned bread and all, went into the sausage-meat hoppers, and occasionally an employee slipped and fell into a vat of boiling meat-product oddments; by the time his bones were discovered, the rest of him had gone to market as pure lard or even Bolognese sauce
In Britain, a great amount of research was carried out by an English doctor - Arthur Hill Hassall - his exposures, and those of Thomas Wakeley led to Acts of Parliament being passed in the 1860"s and 70"s decreeing that processed food had to list its ingredients.
Some adulterations continue - and although they are labelled, the British public seems to put up with them. The adding of polyphosphates to factory-made bacon and ham allows the absorption of large amounts of unnecessary water - so boosting the manufacturers profits. See also "Accum, Friedrich Christian (1769-1838)"; "Wakeley, Thomas"