Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacologist, invented the Scoville scale in 1912 to measure the pungency of peppers and chillies, generally related to their capsaicin content. To establish a chilli pepper’s rating, Scoville would prepare it in a solution, which was then tested by five people. He increased its dilution until the sensation of heat disappeared. The score on the scale represents the level of dilution required for the sensation of heat to disappear completely.
The Alimentarium collection is a true heritage asset, comprising some 10 000 objects relating to all stages of the human diet. They have been acquired, preserved and put on display to bear witness to the history and methods of producing, processing, selling, preparing and consuming our food.
The gap between what scientists say and what people believe is especially large when it comes to food. But opinions change as quickly as fashions. Ideas about what is good and what is bad for us are likely to be quite different tomorrow.