Food Safety in the Ottoman Empire: The Problem of Adulterated Olive Oil in the Context of Public Health and International Trade

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OSMANLI ARASTIRMALARI-THE JOURNAL OF OTTOMAN STUDIES, no.54, pp.277-305, 2019 (AHCI) identifier identifier


Subjects relating to public health turned into a significant policy-making issue in the 19th century, which is why governments took various measures to cope with public health matters. Food safety was considered a major component of the public health policies. An important point of contention became food adulteration. Due to the increase of commodity circulation throughout the world in the nineteenth century this emerged as a serious problem. By the middle of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was also incorporated into the capitalist world economy, which inevitably led to a high level of commodity flow into the domestic market. In the given circumstances, also the Ottoman authorities had to take measures against food adulteration. However, some of these measure impeded with the free trade agreements signed in this period which resulted in the involvement of foreign embassies. This article will examine the preoccupation of the authorities with food safety by delineating adulterated olive oil in the Ottoman Empire.