Farm to Pharma: The Rise and Rise of Food Science

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Timeshift, Series 9 Episode 1 of 9

Duration: 1 hour

Documentary which explores the history of British food science, taking a fascinating voyage through over a century of petri-dishes, vitamins and E-numbers.

The connection between food manufacturers and the white coat brigade is nothing new. One hundred and fifty years before Heston Blumenthal, Birmingham chemist Alfred Bird was reinventing custard because his wife had an allergy to eggs.

By the 1930s, George Orwell was already complaining about the chemical by-products that the British people were eating, but when war gave scientists a chance to remake the British diet the improvement in the nation's health was extraordinary.

Charting the growing role that food science has played in our daily lives, we meet Tony Blake, the food scientist who pioneered instant soup for Batchelors, and we learn about biochemist Jack Drummond, the tragic mastermind of British food in the Second World War, who died alongside his family as in a mysterious murder.

We discover how vegetarian product Quorn was invented to prevent a global food crisis and how breakthroughs in flavour chemistry helped create the day-glo processed foods of the 1970s. We recall Margaret Thatcher's early career as a food scientist and find out why there was no such thing as a free lunch when it came to the promise of fat-free snacks.

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  • Clip: Artificial gut

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    Professor Bob Rastall demonstrates how an artificial gut is being used to develop new food ingredients that will inhibit the growth of pathogens in the human gut.

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