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Margarine Used To Be Pink, and More Colorful Tales From The Food Dye Industry

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Beware unnatural colors:

It's common today to hear food experts raise concerns about the amount of artificial dyes in our foods today, but this is actually a problem that has decreased with time: we're in much better shape now than we were in the Victorian era.

At the dawn of the industrial age, food vendors realized they had to put bold, beautiful colors out there to ensure customers would buy their wares. Problem was, many such vendors were using materials that were far from edible. Lead, copper, arsenic? Those are just three of the things that might be hiding in those bright delicacies being sold on street corners back in the day.

Fortunately, German scientist Frederik Accum was there to call the food industry out for these nefarious practices. After living in London for decades and seeing the way food was messed with, he finally became disgusted enough to write a book on the matter, A Treatise on Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons. In the book, Accrum noted that vendors would dye spent tea leaves, reuse spent coffee, and contaminate both wine and cheese with lead.

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