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Pure Food and Drug Act of (1906)

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (34 Stat. 768) was the first federal law prohibiting the interstate transportation and sale of adulterated food enacted by Congress pursuant to its power under the COMMERCE CLAUSE.

Scandals concerning the purity and quality of food sold to the U.S. public became widespread as the unsanitary methods used by the food industry were disclosed. One notable example was a novel written by UPTON SINCLAIR entitled The Jungle, in which he exposed the dangerous working conditions as well as the unsavory products created by the Chicago meat-packing industry of the early twentieth century.

Dr. Harvey W. Wiley was instrumental in the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, which was subsequently amended in 1912, 1913, and 1919. The act defined adulterated food as that which is combined or packaged with another substance that adversely affects the quality or strength of the food; is substituted in whole or part by another substance; has had any essential component removed in whole or part; has been blended, coated, colored, or stained to conceal damage or inferiority; has had poisonous or harmful additions made to it; is composed of filthy or decomposed animal or vegetable matter; or is the product of a diseased animal or an animal that has died other than by slaughtering.

In 1938, Congress enacted the more stringent Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C.A. § 301 et seq.), which superseded the provisions of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.


Food and Drug Administration.

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