#5 is Particularly Bad!
1. Alum and chalk was added to flour to whiten it.
2. White mashed potatoes, plaster of Paris, pipe clay, sawdust was used to increase the weight of bread loaves.
3. Rye flour or dried powdered beans could be used to replace wheat flour.
4. The sour taste of stale flour could be disguised with ammonium carbonate.
5. Strychnine was used to 'improve' the taste of beer and save on the cost of hops.
6. Spent (used) tea leaves were boiled with copperas (ferrous sulphate) and sheep's dung, then colored with prussian blue (ferric ferrocyanide), verdigris (basic copper acetate), logwood, tannin or carbon black, before being resold.
7. Some varieties of cheap teas were made entirely from the dried leaves of non-tea (camellia sinensis) plants.
8. Used coffee grounds were rejuvenated with roasted beans, sand/gravel, and mixed with chicory, the dried root of wild endive, a plant of the dandelion family. Chicory itself was sometimes adulterated with roasted carrots or turnips and the dark brown coffee color was achieved by using 'black jack' (burnt sugar).
9. A substance called “bittern" was added to batches of bitter beer in large quantities. It contained copperas (ferrous sulphate), extracts of Cocculus indicus, quassia and liquorice juice. There was also a preparation of ground coriander seeds, with Nux vomica and quassia, again to impart bitterness to the brew. Most of these are poisonous!
10. Anchovies were colored with Armenian bole (red clay), Venetian red, red ochre.
· L. Jackson, The Victorian Dictionary, 29 Sept 2005, <http://www.victorianlondon.org/>
· Royal Society of Chemistry, http://www.rsc.org/education/eic/issues/2005mar/thefightagainstfoodadulteration.asp