The addition of colourants to foods is thought to have occurred in Egyptian cities as early as 1500 BC, when candy makers added natural extracts and wine to improve the products’ appearance. During the Middle Ages, the economy in the European countries was based on agriculture, and the peasants were accustomed to producing their own food locally or trading within the village communities. Under feudalism, aesthetic aspects were not considered, at least not by the vast majority of the generally very poor population. This situation changed with urbanization at the beginning of the Modern Age, when trade emerged—especially the import of precious spices and colours.
With the onset of the industrial revolution, people became dependent on foods produced by others. These new urban dwellers demanded food at low cost. Analytical chemistry was still primitive and regulations few. The adulteration of foods flourished. Heavy metal and other inorganic element-containing compounds turned out to be cheap and suitable to “restore” the colour of watered-down milk and other foodstuffs, some more lurid examples being: Red lead and vermillion were routinely used to colour cheese and confectionery.
Copper arsenite was used to recolour used tea leaves for resale. It also caused two deaths when used to colour a dessert in 1860.
Many colour additives had never been tested for toxicity or other adverse effects. Historical records show that injuries, even deaths, resulted from tainted colorants. In 1851, about 200 people were poisoned in England, 17 of them fatally, directly as a result of eating adulterated lozenges.In 1856, mauveine, the first synthetic colour, was developed by Sir William Henry Perkin and by the turn of the century, unmonitored color additives had spread through Europe and the United States in all sorts of popular foods, including ketchup, mustard, jellies, and wine.
Luckily, today both chemical and natural colourants are tested for safety. European Union (EU) legislation requires most additives used in foods to be labelled clearly in the list of ingredients, with their function, followed by either their name or E number. An E number means that it has passed safety tests and has been approved for use here and in the rest of the EU.
Of course that won’t apply now so we can all be poisoned 🙂
Today I decided to play with the food colours I got,instead of doing research and stuff, it wasn’t as easy! I had a glass tank of water, an eye dropper, and my camera set on the burst mode, but getting the focus, exposure and aperture right was a right clart on, and I didn’t quite make it, but these are the best of a bad bunch. Also different colours have different viscosities and densities, the blue was hopeless, just splatted into a fuzzy cloud, whereas the green was just blobs on a string. The 2 top left were supposed to be red but look orange, but I think they were the best ones, anyway, it was fun to do.
and this is how it was done