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#Learnhow: A short history of food hygiene

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Contaminated food can rapidly become a deadly danger. Throughout history humanity has been  worried about "food hygiene" - even though this term was only heard for the first time in the 19th century.
So where did it start. Here is LINPAC’s short history of food hygiene leading to our own developments in food safety through modern technology...
Hygiene is derived from the Greek word "hygienos," meaning healthy and beneficial. The availability of healthy, beneficial nutrition is essential - causing humans to consider, even thousands of years ago, how to correctly store and handle foods so that they were available for consumption over long periods of time.
In addition to techniques for preserving foods, laws and regulations were also developed early on to control the handling of foods. Numerous "food taboos" were already known in ancient times. They often had a ritual and religious character - yet always continued to serve food hygiene. For instance, Judea prohibited the consumption of pork in 1800 BC. India developed a list of "unclean" foods in 500 BC. This list included meat cut with a sword, dog meat, human meat and much more.
The Middle Ages was another period in which food regulations were continuing to be developed. King John in England passed the first food law in 1202.
The blooming of science and technology created the definition of "hygiene" as we still use it today. Back then, with the dawning of the industrial revolution, production of food increasingly became industrialised. The development of new processes to make food sustain for longer periods and reduce germs during production went hand in hand with this industrialization. Development was rapid:

  • 1850 - British scientist John Tyndall developed the Tyndallization process for germ reduction in heat-sensitive foods
  • 1855 - Friedrich Küchenmeister discovered the relationship between pork tapeworms in humans and the parasitic infection cysticercus cellulosas
  • 1864 - French chemist Louis Pasteur invented the Pasteurization process for the preservation of food
  • 1895 - Carl von Linde developed a cooling process to preserve food.

Technical processes around food hygiene continued to develop in the 20th and 21st centuries. Another force came from politics and legislation - increasing numbers of regulations ensured more safety in the production of food.
Starting from the Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act passed by the US Congress in 1906, all the way to the joint EU regulation for food hygiene 100 years later - making companies liable for complying with specifications on food safety.
We are in the lucky situation today that our food is safer from contamination and impurities than ever before.
This has been made possible by ever stricter regulations and by technological developments which contribute to increasing food hygiene right from the start of production.
LINPAC’s investment in research and development  and new packaging innovation is part of this tradition - one such innovation is our trio of flexible packaging solutions for protein products which help minimise contamination, enhance hygiene and reduce food and packaging waste in-store and at home. Read next week’s blog post to find out more.

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