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The fight against food adulteration By Noel Coley1 March No comments Today's quality control of the food and drinks industry is thanks to pioneering work started by chemist Frederick Accum and medic Arthur Hill Hassall in the 19th century Today, food packages and drink cans or bottles must state their contents by law, but until there were few effective controls on the contents or quality of food and drink on sale to the public.
Some of the commonly used additives in the 19th century were poisonous. To whiten bread, for example, bakers sometimes added alum K2SO4. Rye flour or dried powdered beans could be used to replace wheat flour and the sour taste of stale flour could be disguised with ammonium carbonate.
Brewers too, often added mixtures of bitter substances, some containing poisons like strychnine, to 'improve' the taste of the beer and save on the cost of hops see Box 1.
By the beginning of the 19th century the use of such substances in manufactured foods and drinks was so common that town dwellers had begun to develop a taste for adulterated foods and drinks; white bread and bitter beer were in great demand. Enter Frederick Accum Frederick Accum was the first to raise the alarm about food adulteration.
Accum was a German chemist who had come to London in and who quickly established himself as a chemical analyst, consultant and teacher of chemistry see Box 2. By Accum had become aware of the problem through his analytical work and this led him to publish A treatise on adulterations of food and culinary poisons - the first serious attempt to expose the nature, extent and dangers of food adulteration.
The title page of the book bore a skull and a quotation from the Old Testament 'there is death in the pot' II Kings chap.
The first edition sold out within a month; a US edition was published in the same year and a German translation was brought out in In his preface Accum remarked that the art of counterfeiting and adulteration had developed in England to such an extent that spurious articles of all kinds could be found everywhere, but he regarded the adulteration of food and drink as a criminal offence.
By this time tea and coffee drinking had become popular in England but, being imported, both were expensive and as the fashion spread cheaper varieties were needed for sale to the masses. Many of these were not genuine tea and coffee but were made to look like the real thing by chemical treatment.
Spent tea leaves and coffee grounds could be bought for a few pence per pound from London hotels and coffee shops.
The used tea leaves were boiled with copperas ferrous sulphate and sheep's dung, then coloured with prussian blue ferric ferrocyanideverdigris basic copper acetatelogwood, tannin or carbon black, before being resold. Some varieties of cheap teas contained or were made entirely from the dried leaves of other plants.
Chicory itself was sometimes adulterated with roasted carrots or turnips and the dark brown coffee colour was achieved by using 'black jack' burnt sugar. While the adulteration of tea and coffee was fraudulent, the products were not as dangerous as some of the substances added to beer and porter stout.
Accum described a substance called 'bittern' sold to brewers of bitter beer in large quantities.
Adulteration in Food: Deep Rooted Social Evil Essay Sample Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role. From the simple dish to the most elaborate haute cuisine, food preparation is as varied and rich as man’s taste. Food adulteration is an act of intentionally debasing the qualityof food offered for sale either by the admixture or substitution of inferior substances or by the removal of some valuable ingredient. Adulteration of Food by Ooma Tiwari Tariang: A Deep Rooted Social Evil. Now what exactly is food adulteration? Well, the deliberate contamination of food materials with low quality, cheap, non-edible or toxic substances is called food adulteration. While the substance that degrades or lowers the quality of food is an adulterant.
It contained copperas ferrous sulphateextracts of Cocculus indicus, quassia and liquorice juice. There was also a preparation of ground coriander seeds, with Nux vomica and quassia, again to impart bitterness to the brew. While the sale of such poisons was illegal under an Act of Parliament passed during the reign of George III, there were no reliable tests for these vegetable poisons before the s and so the law was not rigorously applied and few offenders were caught.
By his analyses of many commodities Accum recognised the presence of lead and copper salts by the black precipitate they produced with hydrogen sulphide. Copper was further identified by the deep blue colour produced with ammonium hydroxide solution.
The white precipitate of barium sulphate when barium chloride solution was added to liquids containing vitriol indicated the presence of sulphates. The starch in rice powder or wheat flour, often added to thicken cream, could be identified by the blue colour produced by a dilute solution of iodine in aqueous potassium iodide.
Red wine adulterated with the juice of bilberries or elderberries produced a deep blue precipitate with lead acetate. Of all forms of adulteration the most reprehensible was the use of poisonous colouring matters in the manufacture of jellies and sweets.
The bright colours used to attract children often contained lead, copper or mercury salts.
Table 1 lists other adulterants identified by Accum. Incensed by the widespread use of all these practices, Accum published the names and addresses of traders convicted by the Courts of adulterating food and drink with poisonous additives. This made him some powerful enemies.
Accum often studied books in the library of the Royal Institution where some of the enemies he had made were also members. He was secretly watched as he worked and was accused of mutilating some of the books.
His home was searched and pages torn from books were found, though whether he had torn them from his own books or from those belonging to the Royal Institution does not seem to have been established. The evidence was considered enough to charge him.
He appeared before the magistrates and was released on bail pending his trial. With his reputation in ruins public opinion turned against him and, unwilling to face such public disgrace, he fled back to Germany in Adulteration in Food: Deep Rooted Social Evil Essay Sample Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role.
From the simple dish to the most elaborate haute cuisine, food preparation is as varied and rich as man’s taste. Adulteration of food, a “ Deep Rooted Social Evil” Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role. From the “Quick Test for some Adulterants in Food Food adulteration is an act of intentionally debasing the quality of food offered for sale either by the admixture or.
So we need simple screening, tests for their detection.
In the past few decades, adulteration of food has become one of the serious problems. Consumption of adulterated food causes serious diseases like cancer, diarrhea, asthma, ulcers etc. Identifying common food adulterants. Dr. Sitaram Dixit – Chairman, Consumer Guidance Society of India. Adulteration of food, a “Deep Rooted Social Evil” Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role.
From the simple dish to the most elaborate haute cuisine, food preparation is as varied and rich as man’s taste. “DEEP ROOTED SOCIAL EVIL” Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role. Adulteration of food cheats the consumer and can pose serious risk to health.
Mere visual inspection does not serve the purpose especially when adulteration has assumed high degree of sophistication. Consumer awareness is the remedy for. “DEEP ROOTED SOCIAL EVIL” Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role.
The lure of riches and general apathy towards mankind has led to adulterants being added to food from the simple stones in rice to the more harmful brick and boric powder.