Fredrick Accum is representative of a chemist who is largely forgotten these days but nevertheless contributed to important changes in society, in his case by raising awareness of food safety. In Accum's time it was quite common to add all sorts materials to food to make it cheaper to produce and yet still pass it off as a quality product. Accum and fellow campaigners fought against this food fraud and paved the way for the 1875 Sale of Food and Drugs Act.
Accum had no compunction in "naming and shaming" brewers who had been convicted of adulterating beer and druggists convicted of supplying them with the harmful materials. He supported his statements by quoting the official court reports. The fines imposed were very substantial, amounting to around £400 in the bad cases. Grocers similarly adulterated their produce - cayenne pepper was frequently laced with red lead to cover up the fact that it was old and had faded considerably, ground pepper was "extended" by mixing it with PD (pepper dust - warehouse sweepings). Used tea leaves were dried on copper plates to acquire a green patina and then resold, pickles were boiled in copper vessels or half-pence were added to the recipe ingredients to produce "a lively green colour". The same copper pigments occurred in green confectionery, jellies and blancmange, together with vermillion (mercury(II) sulphide mixed with red lead) in the red items.