History of Food Law: The 19th Century


It helps to understand at the outset the aims and objectives of food law, which have remained fairly consistent over time, and how we came to have the system that today regulates the production, distribution and sale of food.

Since time immemorial food has been exploited and adulterated. The Assize of Bread 1266 is generally regarded as being the earliest attempts at legislative control, it aimed at regulating the price, weight and quality of bread and beer. While the means had developed which enabled the size and weight of foods to be determined objectively, quality was a subjective judgement based on appearance, smell and taste. Early attempts were ineffective in protecting the consumer and the guilds which followed in the Middle Ages were concerned the protection of the market, any reassurance offered to the consumer was entirely incidental.