America’s Demand for Healthier Food — More Than a Century Ago

Before the FDA, food canners and packers in 1905 organized their own national organization to protect and self-regulate the purity of America’s food supply.

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Farmer displaying crop in front of his house. He is holding a bushel of hay while dumping vegetables onto the table.
John Atherton, © SEPS.

Before the FDA, food canners and packers organized their own national organization to protect and self-regulate the purity of America’s food supply.

The first large result from the public awakening on the subject of pure food comes in the form of a national organization of canners and packers. The constitution provides for a system of inspection and labeling, and forbids any discussion of prices. About 80 percent of the canners and packers have joined, and if they enforce their constitution, they will soon compel the fellows who are the worst offenders to stop putting out adulterated goods or to go out of business.

The scandal of wholesale poisoning for dividends is growing day by day. The men whose demands for dividends force their agents to commit the crimes will soon find it impossible to pretend that they don’t know what is done in their poison factories.

—“The Pure-Food Packers,” Editorial, April 29, 1905

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