Friedrich Christian Accum or Frederick Accum (29 March 1769 – 28 June 1838) was a German chemist, whose most important achievements included advances in the field of gas lighting, efforts to keep processed foods free from dangerous additives, and the promotion of interest in the science of chemistry to the general populace. From 1793 to 1821 Accum lived in London. Following an apprenticeship as an apothecary, he opened his own commercial laboratory enterprise. His business manufactured and sold a variety of chemicals and laboratory equipment. Accum, himself, gave fee-based public lectures in practical chemistry and collaborated with research efforts at numerous other institutes of science.
Intrigued by the work of Frederick Winsor, who had been championing the introduction of gas lighting in London, Accum too, became fascinated by this innovation. At the request of the Gas Light and Coke Company, he carried out many experiments in this novel field of inquiry. After a time of close working association with this company, he became a member of its board of directors in 1812. The company was charged with founding the first gasworks in London to supply gas lighting to both private and public areas. Accum was instrumental in the conception and design of this extremely successful gasworks.
The majority of Accum’s publications were written in English. They were executed in a style that made them quite accessible. Many scientific contributions were brought forth through his writings, which were influential in the popularization of chemistry during this era. In 1820, Accum published Treatise on Adulteration of Food, in which he denounced the use of chemical additives to food. This work marked the beginning of an awareness of need for food safety oversight. Accum was the first person to tackle the subject and to reach a wide audience through his activities. His book, controversial at the time, found a wide audience and sold well. However, it threatened established practices within the food processing industry, earning him many enemies among the London food manufacturers. Accum left England after a lawsuit was brought against him. He lived out the rest of his life as a teacher at an industrial institution in Berlin.