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Reforming food in post-Famine IrelandMedicine, science and improvement, 18451922$
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Ian Miller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088865

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088865.001.0001

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Purity, adulteration and national economic decline

Purity, adulteration and national economic decline

(p.105) 5 Purity, adulteration and national economic decline
Reforming food in post-Famine Ireland

Ian Miller

Manchester University Press

In the late nineteenth-century, steps were taken to tackle food adulteration in Ireland as the concept of purity to be upheld as a new safety standard. This activity coincided with the post-Famine evolution of a consumerist culture. This chapter demonstrates that the advance of consumerism in Ireland was met with new forms of scientific engagement with consumers and producers that encouraged food quality to be considered in new ways. From the 1860s, public health officials made concerted efforts to delineate the boundaries between purity and impurity and to impose relevant legal standards. The war on impure food was fought on various fronts ranging from cattle raising to butchering and dairy production. Resistance played out on two interconnected levels. Producers contested the need for scientific standards of purity because these threatened to displace long-standing butchering and food production practices. In addition, resistance emerged in the fraught context of late nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish economic relations as anti-adulteration legislation, coupled with an absence of policies to protect the Irish economy, allowed Irish traders and politicians to openly question whether state legislation pertaining to food production was truly benefiting Irish economic life. This pessimistic narrative reflected mounting concern over the economic implications of British rule.

Keywords:   History of food adulteration, History of public health in Ireland, Charles Cameron, History of meat production, History of Anglo-Irish relations

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