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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 2

I Technology Transported; 1788-1840

II Technology Established; 1840-1940

III The Coming Of Science
i Education for Food Technology
ii Research Institutes

IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years

V Products And Processes

VI Conclusion

VII Acknowledgements



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The Coming Of Science

Although there is evidence of scientific activity in Australia from Banks and Solander onwards, science cannot be said to have become established in this country before the 1850s. In that decade men of scientific training were attracted, especially to Victoria, by the new prosperity following the discovery of gold; the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne were founded, each with a distinct scientific bias, and enduring scientific societies emerged.[111] There is evidence in the erection of mills, in the diagrams of Elliott's oil bath, and in the description of Tindal's, Ritchie's, and Harrison's equipment, for example, of the application of contemporary engineering practice, but little evidence of engineering theory. There had been some attempt at technical education in the seventies, but the first university departments of engineering were those at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney, significantly, in 1882 and 1884 respectively.

Food chemistry and biochemistry began with Liebig in Germany, food microbiology with Pasteur in France. Though Accum in 1820, and Mitchell in 1848 published accounts of the detection of adulterants in food, food analysis may be dated from the Lancet Analytical Sanitary Commission set up in 1851 to report on foods. It was led by Dr. A. H. Hassall, but he was no chemist, his methods were largely microscopic. At that time, they were nonetheless effective for that, but the first attempt in Britain (in 1860) to control the food supply failed essentially because of a lack of analysts and analytical methods.{112}

At least by the late 1850s there were in Australia public analysts such as Sydney Gibbons in Melbourne and even some Government analysts such as Dr. John Macadam in Victoria, who combined this activity with teaching, lecturing at the university, and sitting as a member of the Victorian Parliament. Macadam had a special interest in food analysis and was responsible for Victoria's 1863 Act to Prevent the Adulteration of Articles of Food and Drink, which was ineffective for the same reasons as the English Act. In the 1860s, Bleasdale, as has been shown, was active in the analysis of wines.

Knowledge about food and about methods for its examination was, nevertheless, increasing. In England, The Food Journal appeared in 1870 and published many articles on the chemical analysis of a range of foods; the Society of Public Analysts was formed in 1874 and its members were mainly food analysts. The Food Journal was received in Melbourne and may well have stimulated the work of J. Cosmo Newbery and his young assistant, Frederic Dunn, at the Science Museum. In 1876, the Argus published a series of analyses carried out by them on confectionery, tea and milk. Serious adulteration was revealed and the outcry, together with continuing work by Dunn, who became a public analyst in 1884, and others led eventually to the Victorian Pure Food Act of 1905 and its associated regulations, the first such legislation anywhere in the world.[113] This work was a graphic local example of the value of the accumulation of analytical information about food and of the use to which it could be put. It coincided with E. W. Knox's perception of the value of chemical control in the sugar industry, and CSR's adoption of such methods early in the 1880s has already been noted. In 1883 Kjeldahl in Europe published his method for the determination of protein in biological materials and thus put a powerful tool into the hands of all food chemists. It was used in the nineties by Guthrie in his work on wheat (q.v.). Newbery, trained in America, and Dunn, an Australian, followed trends in England; Knox, another Australian, tapped British and German sources; Kjeldahl was a Dane. De Bavay, a Belgian with links to Pasteur himself and Hansen in Denmark, introduced microbiology to Australian food technology. It was a specialized application because the general application to food processing of the principles enunciated by Pasteur had to await the seminal studies of Prescott and Underwood in America. Babcock of fat test fame was another American and in the nineties, two Englishmen, E B. Guthrie and W. J. Farrer, combined to make an original contribution to food science. Thus, the contributions of different streams of thought, typical of the advancement of science and technology, are clearly identifiable in Australian food technology in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Argus; Lancet Analytical Sanitary Commission

People in Bright Sparcs - Accum, Frederick; Bleasdale, Dr J. I; Dunn, Frederick; Guthrie, F. B.; Harrison, James; Knox, E. W.; Macadam, Dr John; Mitchell, John; Pasteur, Louis; Ritchie, Samuel Sextus; Tindal, C. G.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 113, Online Edition 2000
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