July 9, 2019: Changes in Food Safety

One aspect I like about looking through old cookbooks is discovering how food safety has evolved. While one could easily argue sardine salad is not safe for consumption, reading about chemicals used in food can be frightening. Reading through the old cookbooks gives a good example of how food safety has evolved over the last 50-60 years.

In this case, I found a 1950s cookbook titled, “Calorie Saving Recipes Using Sucaryl.” I was not familiar with sucaryl, but I was certainly intrigued by its apparent usefulness. Drinks suddenly became sweeter and cakes tasted better through the wonders of Sucaryl. After looking it up though, it became apparent it was more dangerous than useful for food. Sucaryl, whose chemical name is as sodium cyclamate, is an artificial sweetener that has been banned in the United States since 1970 due to concerns about causing cancer. Though it has been banned in the U.S., it is still used in European countries and Canada. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do, so reading the cookbooks held at the history center has given me a new appreciation for food safety and has also given me some chuckles looking at recipes I would never attempt to make.

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