Ever since rogue Ancient Greek and Roman chefs added honey, salt water and lead to wine, dodgy vendors have tampered with food for profit. In the Middle Ages, spices were made to go further by adding dried berries, nuts, seed, gravel, sand and even dust. Flour and milk spent centuries being bulked out or watered down, then made to look halfway decent with alum, chalk, plaster and white lead. Cheese was coloured with red lead, while flour and arrowroot were added to cream to thicken it.
In 1820, Frederick Accum, a German-born chemist, made a study of food adulteration. Published simultaneously in Britain and the USA, A Treatise on Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons helped to raise public awareness of a problem we still face. SL