Its Effects on the Regulation of Agricultural Products
Foodborne illnesses and disease have always been a great problem concerning human health. Until the advent of the industrial revolution, the human population significantly increased over that time period and has been steadily rising ever since. Food production, along with the human population, needed to be significantly increased as well. One of the problems of this new period was the introduction of more disease; people were often packed together in small locations and these cities breed all sorts of different pathogens. Widespread cholera outbreaks and other foodborne illness outbreaks were common place. People began to become afraid of the food they ate and doubted the cleanliness of agricultural products. Government involvement was needed to combat these new outbreaks. Food safety laws were then put in place to prevent widespread outbreaks and to ensure the quality of food. Food safety has made a profound impact on the regulation and production of agricultural products.
The introduction of food safety within the United States can be accredited to the literary works done by muckraking journalists during the early 1900’s. The use of yellow journalism exposed the horrid conditions of the meat packing industry. A great example would be the novel The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, which helped expose many of the problems present in the food industry. After these pressures were put in place the United States government intervened and proposed two acts: Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and the Meat Inspection Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was part of the first consumer protection laws enacted by the Federal Government in the 20th century. This act ultimately led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Its original purpose was to ban any type of foreign and interstate traffic in mislabeled food and drug products. The act also required that active ingredients be placed on the label of a drug’s packaging. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was a key piece of Progressive Era legislation that was signed along with the Federal Meat Inspection Act on the same day. The Federal Meat Inspection was the beginning of federal regulation of U.S poultry, meat, and egg products supply. Labor Commissioner Charles P. Neil began to examine the industry’s practices and learned that the practices were even worse than were depicted in Sinclair’s novel The Jungle. The Federal Meat Inspection Act established standards for inspecting all meat processing plants that conducted their business across state lines. The act itself has been amended and strengthened by subsequent acts, including 1967’s Wholesome Meat and Wholesome Poultry Products.
Some foodborne illnesses are caused by either viral or bacterial infections; the Norovirus is the most common type of infection causing acute gastroenteritis. About 267 million people yearly are affected by the Norovirus alone (Egendorf 19)....