By the 1840's the old image of home baked bread was long gone, the poor had moved to small city tenements to form a new urban mass. Obviously these tenements were unequipped to bake bread. As such for the first time people began to buy bread and other foods. In 1872 Dr. Hassall, who investigated food adulteration and was a principal reformer in this vital area of health, showed that half of the bread he examined had considerable quanities of alum. Whilst this is not poisonous, it does inhibit digestion, consequently lowering the nutritional value of other foods that people ate.
A variety of poisonous additives such as;
- Strychnine, cocculus inculus (hallucinogens) and copperas in rum and beer
- Sulphate of copper in pickles, bottled fruit, wine, and preserves
- Lead chromate in mustard and snuff
- Sulphate of iron in tea and beer
- Ferric ferrocynanide, lime sulphate, and turmeric in chinese tea
- Copper carbonate, lead sulphate, bisulphate of mercury, and Venetian lead in sugar confectionery and chocolate
- Lead in wine and cider
- Red lead gave Gloucester cheese its 'healthy' red colour
- Flour and arrowroot thickened cream
- Tea leaves were 'dried, dyed, and recycled'.
- A quarter of the milk contained excessive water, or chalk
- Ten per cent of all the butter, over eight per cent of the bread, and 50 per cent of the gin had copper in them to heighten the color.
These poisonous additives and had an accumulative effect, which over a long period gave chronic gastritis and often caused fatal poisoning.
The London County Country Medical Officer discovered that samples of ice cream contained:
- Cotton fiber
- Bed bugs
- Human hair
- Cat and dog hair.... delicious!!
Contaminated ice cream caused diphtheria, scarlet fever, diarrhoea, and enteric fever.
Food adulteration now
You may think food adulteration is consigned to history, sadly its not. Food adulteration is the act of intentionally degrading the quality of food offered for sale either by the admixture or substitution of inferior substances or by the removal of some valuable ingredient (this is also the description of processed food). Food is declared adulterated if:
- a substance is added which depreciates or injuriously affects it
- cheaper or inferior substances are substituted wholly or in part
- any valuable or necessary constituent has been wholly or in part abstracted
- it is an imitation
- it is coloured or otherwise treated, to improve its appearance or if it contains any added substance injurious to health
Salicylic, benzoic, and boric acids, and their sodium salts, formaldehyde, ammonium fluoride, sulphurous acid and its salts are amongst the preservatives used today. Canned vegetables are sometimes coloured green with copper salts, butter is made more yellow using anatta. Chrome yellow, prussian blue, copper and arsenic compounds are used (often in yellow and orange-coloured sweets).
Artificial flavouring compounds are used for diet drinks and foods. Milk is skimmed, pasteurized, homogenized and has water added. Gelatin (usually pork) is added to cream, as is formaldehyde to preservative it.
The bottom line is that food isn't always food despite what the packaging may tell you. Check the ingredients and if you need a degree in chemistry to understand it then don't eat it.