With all of the recent press coverage it might seem that olive oil adulteration is a modern practice but, as this 1863 article from the New England Journal of Medicine shows, fraud has been going on a while.

France was occupying Mexico, the U.S. was in the midst of its bloody Civil War, and it was already “widely known” that olive oil was “very seldom pure.” Unscrupulous enterprises favored poppy, sesame, peanut and beechnut oils to defraud their customers.

A method developed by a French chemist, M. Hauchecorn, could detect if the oil was adulterated with other seed oils. If it was pure olive oil, Hauchecorn’s test could indicate how good it was.

New England Journal of Medicine

More articles on: , ,