Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/56

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52
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
PURE FOOD LEGISLATION
By ROBERT McD. ALLEN,
SECRETARY OF THE INTERSTATE PURE FOOD COMMISSION

THE facts and evils of food adulteration have been overwhelmingly established. They have been published in volume after volume of state and federal government reports, and have been sworn to again and again by competent experts. State courts have imposed fines, and in hundreds of instances manufacturers and dealers have confessed that their food is adulterated, and judgments are entered accordingly. Yet, the evil is so strongly entrenched in business systems that a proposition to put truthful labels on foods and drugs intended for interstate commerce has met continuous defeat for more than fifteen years at the national capital.

Most of the states have enacted laws to control the manufacture and sale of foods. Some of these laws are good. Others contain bad provisions in an otherwise good law, provisions intended to nullify the law as it may apply to the several practises which food legislation is needed to correct, and such provisions but serve to legalize some adulteration which would have been subject to prosecution at common law. The main principles of the state laws have been well established by the Appellate Courts of the states and by the United States Supreme Court in a long train of decisions. With this backing, some eight or nine of the states are thoroughly enforcing their laws, and, as a result, there is a marked betterment in the food supply coming into such states.

The State Food Control Officials have an organization known as the Interstate Pure Food Commission. The commission was organized in 1896 for the purpose of bringing about uniformity among the state laws and securing the passage by congress of a law to apply to interstate commerce. This commission has held annual meetings, and at each meeting resolutions were adopted setting forth urgent reasons for national legislation to supplement the state laws. In nineteen hundred and three at Saint Paul, Minnesota, the commission called a joint meetings of manufacturing interests, state officials and representatives from the Bureau of Chemistry and the Inspection Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture. The manufacturers were given the full privilege of the floor, the discussions were frank, and, as a result of the meeting, the officials were impressed with the fact that in the preservation of the large fruit and vegetable crops much of food adulteration comes