January 19: This year is the 200th anniversary of the food can, and The Canmaker magazine, along with canmaking firm Impress and industry organisations are marking the event with seminars and special features.
Foods preserved in metal canisters evolved after Frenchman Nicolas Appert developed a process for sterilising vegetables and meats in glass bottles at the beginning of the 19th century. He published a book outlining his ideas and was given a 12,000 Franc grant by the French government, which under Napoleon was at war in Europe and welcomed the facility of having relatively fresh foodstuffs available for its armies.
Another Frenchman, Philippe de Girard, developed the ideas using tinplate canisters and arranged for an agent in London, Peter Durand, to file a patent in August 1810. Soon after, Girard demonstrated the canned foods at The Royal Society and through Durand sold the patent to Bryan Donkin and John Hall who in 1812 they set up the world’s first canmaking and canning factory in Bermondsey. This used tinplated iron sheets that had until then been mostly used for a variety of decorative products and utensils.