Food Regulation Began 500 Years Ago Here

This week marks the 500th anniversary of the first modern food regulation law.  On April 23, 1516, Bavaria (now part of Germany) adopted Reinheitsgebot, also known as the “German Beer Purity Law.”

The law decreed that “the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be barley, hops and water.”  (Yeast was later added for its role in fermentation.)  Any beer that did not meet this standard would be confiscated.  Reinheitsgebot also regulated the price of beer and the profit that could be earned by innkeepers.

There were many reasons for this law.  Bavaria complained that beer from Northern Germany contained unfair additives such as spices and cherries.  Religious conservatives complained that other additives were used in pagan rituals.

In those days, inspectors tested beer purity by pouring it on top of a stool, then sitting on it.  The degree to which the beer caused the inspector’s leather pants to stick to the stool determined its quality.

Today, Agilent provides more scientific methods for ensuring the quality and safety of food and beverages.  This is critical in today’s global food industry, where experts say that two-thirds of salmon appearing on restaurant menus is incorrectly labeled.  In recent years, there have been major scandals involving impurities in wine and milk.

Agilent solutions are used throughout the food production chain, including incoming inspection, new product development, quality control and assurance, and packaging.


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