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Green beef and purple ham - chemical colours in Victorian food

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Duncan Needham.

Synthetic dyes were one of a kaleidoscope of new substances, including drugs, flavourings, sweeteners and perfumes, synthesized by European chemists from coal-tar waste in the second half of the nineteenth century. The new chemical dyes were greeted by the Victorian media as evidence of the wonder of science and its ability to transform and improve lives. Within a short time these new substances, many of them toxic, were being used to colour Victorian food, despite the fact that food adulteration was a massive social and political issue at this period. This talk examines how the Victorian media responded to the use of aniline dyes in food.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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