Adulteration

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

adulteration the mixing of foodstuffs with inferior or spurious substances, has been going on for as long as food has been sold. Roman bakers were accused of adding chalk to bread. More usually it is goods of high value that are adulterated, for example spices. In England in 1316 the Guild of Pepperers issued a decree banning the moistening of saffron, ginger, and cloves to make them heavier, as they were sold by weight. Often highly noxious adulterants were used: cayenne pepper, which easily loses its red colour, was tinted with cinnabar, an extremely poisonous mercury compound.