Pure Food and Drug Act


On June 30, 1906, the U.S. Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, which took effect on January 1, 1907. The Food and Drug Act is sometimes called the Wiley Act after Harvey Washington Wiley (1844–1930), the director of the Bureau of Chemistry, who had long lobbied for food and drug regulation. The act, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, was one of the federal government's first comprehensive efforts to impose regulation on the products that the public ingested, principally meats and other food products, along with patent medicines—so called because their manufacturers misled the public into thinking their compounds were patented by the U.S. government. The 1906 act was replaced in 1938 by the more comprehensive Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It remains significant, however, because it was passed during the Progressive era, when numerous reforms were implemented to protect the public from unscrupulous business practices.

Behind many of these reforms were writers...

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Harvey Washington Wiley (Library of Congress)

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