Why the Fridge Is Hottest Item in History of Food and Drink

Daily Mail (London), September 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Why the Fridge Is Hottest Item in History of Food and Drink


Byline: Steven Henry

IT is the humble household appliance every family takes for granted. But yesterday the domestic refrigerator was named the most significant invention in the history of food and drink. It beat pasteurisation and canning to take top place in the 20 innovations that have played a pivotal role in improving our lives.

The fridge, which was first developed by a Scot, surpassed other white goods including the oven and microwave, as well as cooking processes such as baking and frying. Artificial refrigeration was first demonstrated by William Cullen at Glasgow University in the 18th century.

Science body The Royal Society, which collated the list, said: 'Refrigeration has played the biggest role of any innovation in improving the diets of millions of people.

'It is responsible for bringing a more varied, interesting, nutritious and more affordable diet to an ever increasing number of people.' The prestigious London-based Society whittled down to 20 a list of 100 innovations.

The shortlist was then voted on by Fellows of the society and experts in the food and drink industry who judged each on four criteria: accessibility, productivity, aesthetics and health.

The top three results consisted of scientific developments in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Artificial refrigeration was first demonstrated in Scotland's biggest city in 1748 and then produced commercially in 1805.

The first pasteurisation test was completed in France in 1862 by Louis Pasteur. The process slows the spoilage of milk.

The Royal Society said: 'Pasteurisation was responsible for a major improvement in public health. Improperly handled raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalisations than any other food-borne disease outbreak, making it one of the most potentially dangerous food products. …

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