Meat Inspection Act of 1906
The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 (FMIA) is meant to prevent adulterated or misbranded meat and meat products from being sold as food and to ensure that such products are slaughtered and processed under sanitary conditions. These requirements also apply to imported meat products, which must be inspected under equivalent foreign standards. USDA inspection of poultry was added by the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for all meats not listed in the FMIA or PPIA, including venison and buffalo, although USDA does offer a voluntary, fee-for-service inspection program for buffalo.
The original 1906 Act authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to inspect and condemn any meat product found unfit for human consumption. Unlike previous laws ordering meat inspections, which were enforced to keep European nations from banning pork trade, this law was strongly motivated to protect the American diet. All labels on any type of food had to be accurate (although not all ingredients were provided on the label). The law was partly a response to the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, an exposé of the Chicago meat packing industry, as well as to other Progressive Era muckraking publications.
Cry Wolf Quotes
Meat canned five years ago is just as good as meat canned six months ago….Of course [putting the date on a can] benefits nobody if the meat is just as good with age, like whisky is said to be, as it is without.
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.
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.
If you would pass a law which requires unnecessary expense…that expense must to some extent be ultimately borne by the public. Either the consumer or the producer must stand it.