Meat Inspection Act of 1906

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.

Commentary

US Capitol building

Darrel Issa’s Government Handover

January 05, 2011

Cry Wolf Quotes

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.

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.

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.

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.