Food Safety

Food Safety

The first federal pure food laws were passed in response to Upton Sinclair’s 1906 expose of slaughterhouses in Chicago and growing concerns about the safety of “adulterated” food. Food borne illnesses still break out with some frequency. Recent cases of poisonings from salmonella and E.Coli bacteria have created enough momentum for Congress in late 2010 to pass the most significant update of our food safety laws since 1938. Food safety in the United States is overseen by a number of governmental organizations, the most prominent of which is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are many efforts in cities and states to improve nutrition and calorie labeling requirements and tackle America’s obesity epidemic.

Cry Wolf Quotes

In Armour & Co.’s business not one atom of any condemned animal or carcass finds its way, directly or indirectly, from any source, into any food product or food ingredient” [italics in original]. Every meat animal and every carcass slaughtered in the Union Stockyards, or in the stock yards at any of the markets of the United States, is carefully inspected by the United States Government.

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J. Ogden Armour, president of Armour, a slaughterhouse and meatpacking company, Saturday Evening Post.

We have no authority until the meat becomes commerce. You see we have a right to control commerce, but not manufacture. I have the belief that it would be better if the Federal Government had general power to enact police powers for the protection of the people against impure and unwholesome foods, if it could stop with that…There is not one single thing in the Federal Constitution that expressly confers upon Congress any police power whatever, and by police power I mean the power to enact laws for the preservation of the public health, the public morals, and the public peace.

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E.D. Crumpacker (R-IN). Testimony, House Committee on Agriculture.

[It is a] collectivist [myth that business people] would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings….It is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product.

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Alan Greenspan, writing in Ayn Rand's Objectivist newsletter.
01/01/1963 | Full Details | Law(s):

I know those packing houses as well as I know the corridors of the capitol [i.e.: not particularly well, he only served one term in DC]...there is not a kitchen of a rich man in this city, or any other, that is any cleaner, if it is as clean, as those places...Of course, you know the sort of men many of the laborers in the packing houses are—foreigners of a low grade of intelligence...If those men happen to spit, they are likely to spit, but it doesn’t go on the meat.

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Rep. Charles Wharton (R-IL), congressman for Chicago’s meat-packing district.

Resources

California Center for Public Health Advocacy that strives to raise awarness about food safety-related public health issues.

Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity is a think tank devoted to food policy in the United States.

Consumer Federation of America defends the consumer interest in fields ranging from housing and financial services to food safety. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

(FDA) is the federal agency responsible for the testing and regulation of food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices.