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

There is no question but that this legislation would put Federal bureaucracy in complete control of the size, the weight, the pictorial matter, and the copy on every food package. I wonder if anyone has stopped to think that the idea of seeking Government authority in advance before making a vital business decision is absolutely inconsistent with some of our most fundamental and cherished American traditions….Unless I have been misinformed all these years, I have been under the impression that we are dedicated to the proposition that within reasonable limitations the American citizen is free to do as he pleases…

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Lloyd Skinner, a small businessman and owner of a macaroni company, on behalf of the National Small Business Association. Testimony, Senate Committee on Commerce hearings "Fair Packaging and Labeling". April 28, 1965.

It makes business sense to have them clean. We want them to be sanitary, and expect them to be sanitary, and will do anything in reason to make them sanitary. The only question is whether it will not lead to complications, to make the Secretary of Agriculture the judge as to what is sanitary. He might be disposed to call in some outside talent…and we most certainly question the qualifications of that talent.

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Thomas Wilson, spokesperson for the meatpacking industry, Testimony, House Agricultural committee.

The very great objection to that is the possibility of confusion. We have State laws and we have city laws in the matter of constructions, and we have insurance laws that we have got to comply with….the construction of a building that might suit the Secretary of Agriculture would not suit those folks, and what might suit those folks might not suit the Secretary of Agriculture.

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Thomas Wilson, spokesperson for the meatpacking industry, Testimony, House Agricultural committee.

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.

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.