The Food Safety Information Handbook

By Cynthia A. Roberts | Go to book overview
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Any chronological depiction of a topic as diverse as food safety involves a look at an array of eclectic, seemingly unrelated events. This chronology weaves together those events from a wide range of subject areas including basic biology, bacteriology, and microbiology; inventions such as refrigeration, freezing, canning, and irradiation; major foodborne illness outbreaks; and government regulations.

6000 B.C.E.

Techniques for drying and smoking foods are developed in Europe and


2600 B.C.E.

Egyptians preserve fish and poultry by drying in the sun.

1000 B.C.E.

Chinese cut ice and use it for refrigeration. They also preserve food

through drying and pickling.

500 B.C.E.

Mediterranean people develop marinating. They soak fish guts in salty so

lution, then leave them in the sun until they ferment, producing a strong

smelling liquid. At about the same time, people across Europe master the

preservative technique of salting, which leads to the development of curing

and pickling. Salt thus becomes a major commodity in international trade.

312 B.C.E.

Roman engineers complete an aqueduct into Rome, providing the city

with its first pure drinking water.

Early 700s

Tea gains in popularity in China, possibly because drinking a hot beverage

was safer than drinking water, which may be contaminated.


The first recorded major outbreak of ergotism occurs in the Rhine Valley.

Thousands die after eating bread made from rye contaminated with the

fungus Claviceps purpurea, which contains the alkaloid drug ergot

amine. Ergot amine is transformed into a hallucinogen during baking,

causing a form of madness. The cause of the disease would not be realized

until almost the 17th century.


40,000 die in France from ergot poisoning after eating bread made from

rye contaminated with Claviceps purpurea.


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