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ADULTERATION OF FOOD
(Food Adulteration)

In England, the Adulteration of Food or Drink Act of 1872 set a stiff penalty of 6 months at hard labor for a second offense.

England has had laws banning adulteration of bread, beer and other foods since the 13th century.

In the 1850s it has been estimated that mustard rarely contained more than 20% mustard seeds - the remainder being composed of wheat or pea flour, plaster of Paris with turmeric and cayenne, and linseed meal.

In the 1870s mushroom ketchup was reported as having been made from rotting horse livers.

In modern times processed meats and poultry have been adulterated by injecting with water or treated with chemicals that cause the meat to absorb large amount of water to increase weight.

The Code of Hammurabi from ancient Babylonia, about 1750 BC, regulated the practices of drinking houses, and called for the death penalty for those found guilty of watering down their beer.

In 1444 any merchant caught selling adulterated saffron in Bavaria was burned alive.

In 15th and 16th century Germany the adulteration of various foods and beverages was rampant, despite severe punishments. In 1456 at Nuremberg, two men guilty of adulterating wine were buried alive. Literature of the 16th century mentions brick dust in ginger, and 'unhealthy' stuff in pepper; dishonest weights and counts, artificial coloring, and storage of dried spices in damp cellars to increase weight.

Because of its popularity and its expense for much of its history, pepper has been adulterated with many things, including juniper berries, pea flour, mustard husks, and papaya seeds.

The dried flowers of the French marigold (Tagetes patula) are sometimes used to adulterate saffron.
 

 

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