Adulteration is the act of making any commodity impure by mixture of other ingredients. This mixture may corrupt the nature of the original to the extent of destroying its identity, or it may merely lower the value or effectiveness of the finished product. Adulteration of foods and beverages has been performed with the same aim—increasing profits for the manufacturer or merchant—since early times, when laws in ancient Greece and Rome addressed the coloring and flavoring of wine. England has had laws against adulteration of beer, bread, and other commodities since the 13th century, culminating in the Adulteration of Food or Drink Act of 1872 with its stiff penalties. The law was modernized with the 1955 Food and Drug Act.
Adulteration not only functions to defraud consumers but it can also pose a health threat. In the case of illegal drugs sold on the street, adulteration is generally in the form of inert or harmless compounds, but deadly poisons, such as sodium cyanide, have sometimes been sold as heroin. Adulteration is not the only source of poor-quality or dangerous foods and drugs: The ingredients of junk foods need not be adulterated to ensure a virtual absence of nutritional value; potentially hazardous medicines will have more adverse effects if unadulterated. The consumer movement of recent times has focused not only on adulteration, but also on the nature of various unadulterated ingredients.
For hundreds of years, governments have had an interest in regulating food processing to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the foods consumed by their citizens. The earliest known food law was written in Japan in AD 702. In Britain, the first Pure Food Laws were enacted during the 1860s to combat adulteration, the secret use of additives to stretch wholesome foods with cheaper, no nutritious (and sometimes dangerous) ingredients. This practice became common during the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century), when cities began to grow...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document