History of Food Safety
Before manufacturing traditional, farming practices and preserving techniques were used to ensure safe food.
During industrial revolution, food began to be processed and packaged. Lacking regulation, manufacturers were free to add whatever they liked to their products. Sweeping from the floor were included in pepper, lead salts were added to candy and cheese, textile inks were used as coloring agents, bricks dust was added to cocoa, and copper salts were added to peas and pickles.
In the 1880s, women started organizing groups to protest the conditions at slaughterhouses in New York City and adulterated foods in other parts of the country.
In 1883, Harvey W. Wiley, chief chemist of the U.S Agricultural Department’s Bureau of Chemistry, began experimenting with food and drug adulteration.
Meanwhile, Upton Sinclair spent several weeks in a meat packing plant investigating labor conditions and turned his discoveries into a book, The Jungle, published in 1906. Although the focus of that book was the conditions immigrants experienced in the early twentieth century, there were graphic descriptions of the filth and poor hygiene in packing plants. It caught the public attention.
People began complaining to Congress and to President Theodore Roosevelt. Pressure was also mounting from foreign governments that wanted some assures that food imported from United States was pure and wholesome.
Two acts were passed in 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Beef Inspection Act, to improve food safety conditions.
In 1927, U.S Food, Drug and Insecticide Administration (shortened to Food and Drug Administration) or FDA was created to enforce the Pure Food and Drug act.
The Pure food Act was later superseded in 1938 by Pure Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. This act prohibited any food or drug that is dangerous to health to be sold in interstate commerce.
In 1958, concern over cancer led to the adoption of the Delaney Amendments, which expanded the FDA’s regulatory powers to set limits on pesticides and additives. Manufacturers had to prove that additives and pesticides were safe before they could be used.
The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1966 standardized the labels of products and required that labels provide honest information.
The next major act was the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. It set new regulations requiring implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control points (HACCPs) for most food processor.
The Food quality Protection Act also changed the way acceptable pesticide levels are calculated. Now total exposure for all sources must be calculated.
History of Food Safety
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