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History of Hygiene
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Food Hygiene

SNAPSHOTS of FOOD HYGIENE

ANCIENT Food preservation: “Refrigerators”. People in cold climates stored food in snow and ice, while those in warmer climates employed a range of different techniques including leaving water out overnight to freeze, or adding saltpeter to water to lower its temperature. Dehydration. One of the oldest known food preservation techniques used sun-drying to prolong the life of food. Salt was the first food additive used to preserve food.

ANCIENT Cooking: The oldest method of cooking was over an open fire. This method was refined somewhat over time: in China enclosed clay ovens date back to 221 BC, in Japan enclosed wood or coal-fuelled ovens date to the 3rd century, and in Europe by the middle ages use of the hearth and chimney was common.

Trophy  500 BC: Recognition of food spoilage in China led to food prohibitions and recommendations aiming to minimise the danger of disease, e.g. don’t eat discoloured, dirty or smelly food; cook raw foods using high temperatures; eat hot food

Middle ages: Edible plates! In Europe, people ate from communal platters. This practice gave way to use of ‘trenchers’, plates made from very hard bread. These were fed to beggars or dogs after the meal. Edible trenchers were then replaced by wooden trenchers (for the lower classes), and metal plates (for the upper classes). People ate with their hands, except for soup.

Lightbulb  Developments in food hygiene

1810s: Heat treatment processing of food began. Glass bottles were initially used but were replaced by cans and the canning industry.

1864: Pasteurisation. Louis Pasteur first demonstrated and explained why heat treatment could prevent souring of beer and wine. This process was adapted to preserve other foods, particularly milk.

1920s: Freezing technology. Clarence Birdseye was awarded patents for his quick freezing processes, used for fish. His apparatus of 2 hollow metal plates cooled to −25° C by vaporisation of ammonia was the precursor to the design of freezers used today in the food industry.

1930s: Powered, domestic refrigerators began to replace domestic ice boxes and the necessity for fresh ice every day. Fridges quickly became popular in the USA, with 50% of households having a fridge by 1938. They took longer to catch on in England, with 50% of households having a fridge by 1968.

Trophy  1932: Revolution in Paris butchery! “A butcher’s shop, clean and germ-free like a hospital operating room, has just been opened in Paris.” Rubber-gloved salesmen worked from a 7 °C glass room with filtered air, prepared meat in front of customers and communicated to them with microphones. Meat was stored in the basement in refrigerators or cold storage. Previously, customers handled & smelled the meat before purchasing! ”Not only are Parisians being served with much cleaner meat…they are absorbing practical lessons in hygiene which it is to be hoped they will apply on returning to their homes.”

1960s and 70s: Powered freezers grew in popularity in the USA and England.

Cooking developments: 1720s – Cast iron ovens and stoves were common, using wood fire contained in a chamber. 1820s-30s Coal and gas-fuelled ovens were invented. 1920s-30s The electric oven, first invented in the 1890s, became more common in households as the supply of electricity became more reliable. 1947 – The microwave oven was invented, and after initial use predominantly in hotels and restaurants, began to be used in USA homes in the 1950s. 1970s – Most recently, induction stoves generate heat in magnetic cookware by using magnetic coils to create an electromagnetic current.

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