Food & Drug Administration Act

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Food & Drug Administration Act
Problems with meat processing led to the passage of the Food and Drug Admistration Act. (meat image by Susan Rae Tannenbaum from Fotolia.com)

The Food and Drug Administration Act (also known as the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 or the Wiley Act) was a piece of legislation that eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA is a current branch of the United States government that investigates all food and drug products to ensure that they are safe for consumption.

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Cry for Help

This was after a national cry for help when diseases were being transferred through foods that were kept in unsanitary conditions and were not safe to eat. This was brought to light in Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel "The Jungle," which was one of the most significant calls for change in the meatpacking industry. President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the industry to be investigated and the Meat Inspection Act was soon passed.

Establishment

The Food and Drug Administration Act led the way for the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration. The legislation allowed the federal government to inspect all areas of food and drugs. This eventually led to the official establishment of the FDA to ensure that these inspections were being completed. The FDA is responsible for investigating any claims made against a food or drug company that would question a person's safety, as well as inspecting and testing food and drug products before they are released to the public.

United States Department of Agriculture

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was already established during the passage of this legislation. Because the Food and Drug Administration, outlined in the 1906 document, would not be ready to immediately investigate several problems in the food industry, the USDA was forced to take on some of the burden. Immediate concerns about the food industry (such as meat packing) were handed to the USDA to ensure that inspections began immediately after the passage of the act.

Meat Inspection Act

The Meat Inspection Act was passed on the same day as the Food and Drug Administration Act. The Meat Inspection Act was an additional act to tackle the same problems. This act required the USDA to inspect livestock, slaughterhouses and processed and unprocessed meat. The USDA continues to inspect these areas of meat processing, while the FDA is required to inspect almost all other areas of food.

Effects

This act had become one of the most aggressive pieces of federal legislation to its date of passage. It greatly expanded the jurisdiction of government control to protect the public. With the act establishing the FDA, this limited the amount of power and choices that individual companies could make.

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