Cereals & Grains Association
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Chapter 1: Overview

Pages 1-5
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1094/1891127004.001
ISBN: 1-891127-00-4


Topics Covered

  • Adulteration of Foods
  • Appreciation of Color

Introduction to Chapter

The use of color in foods and cosmetics dates back to antiquity. Recorded history is replete with accounts of the use of colorants in everyday life. The art of making colored candy is depicted in paintings in Egyptian tombs as far back as 1500 B.C. Pliny the Elder described the artificial coloration of wines in 400 B.C. Spices and condiments were colored at least 500 years ago. Colorants in cosmetics were probably more widespread than those in foods or at least were better documented. Archaeologists have pointed out that Egyptian women used green copper ores as eye shadow as early as 5000 B.C. Henna was used to dye hair, carmine to redden lips, and kohl, an arsenic compound, to blacken eyebrows. It was common practice in India thousands of years ago to color faces yellow with saffron or to dye feet red with henna. The Romans put white lead and chalk on their faces and blue dyes on their hair and beards. More recently, in Britain, sugar was imported in the twelfth century in attractive red and violet colors, probably from the colorants madder and kermes for the reds and Tyrian purple for the violet colors.