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Was Christiana Edmunds Innocent? Poisoning and the Adulteration of Chocolate in Victorian England

Today, the food industry is heavily regulated to protect and promote the health of consumers. But that hasn't always been the case. In fact, the addition of unnatural or unsafe products to food and drink was widespread in Victorian England. The motivations for adulteration were purely economic:  using cheaper alternatives boosted profits and legislation to regulate the industry simply didn't exist. So, with this in mind, what are the implications for Christiana Edmunds? Was the Chocolate Cream Killer innocent, after all? Was this a case of accidental poisoning? Excuse the pun but it does give food for thought.

This image might seem a bit far-fetched but chocolate and sugar confectionery were two of the most heavily-adulterated foodstuffs of the 19th century. We can thank Fredrick Accum, a German chemist, for first bringing this problem to public attention.  In 1820 he published his (damning) treatise on the English food industry and consumers were horrified. Accum found that su…

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