History of food legislation in the united states

Food safety is an issue that should not be overlooked. “Sources of food contamination are almost equal in number as the contaminants themselves (North Dakota State University 2007)”. It is difficult to isolate the food products from the harmful bacteria and infectious organisms because they are found everywhere in our environment. “Bacteria and other infectious organisms are pervasive in the environment. Salmonella enteritidis enters eggs directly from the hen. Bacteria (occasionally pathogenic) inhabit the surfaces of fruits and vegetables in the field.

Molds and their toxic byproducts can develop in grains during unusually wet or dry growing seasons, damage and stress during harvesting, or during improper storage. Seafood may become contaminated from agricultural and other runoff, as well as by sewage, microorganisms, and toxins present in marine environments. Many organisms that cause foodborne illness in humans can be part of the normal flora of the gastrointestinal tract of food-producing animals without any adverse effects to the animal.

Milk, eggs, seafood, poultry, and meat from food-producing animals may become contaminated due to contaminated feed, misuse of veterinary drugs, or poor farming practices, including production and harvesting activities, or disposal of solid waste on land. Foods may become contaminated during processing due to malfunctioning or improperly sanitized equipment; misuse of cleaning materials; rodent and insect infestations; and improper storage. Foods may become contaminated in retail facilities and in the home through use of poor food handling practices (North Dakota State University 2007)”. Background of the Study

Concern for the safety of food is not a new thing. In fact it goes way back to around 200 B. C. when there was concern for the dilution of wine with water. European nations have always had food laws to regulate food safety. Since Americans have extensive European heritage, the approach of European nations to food safety have influenced the States to take precaution as well such as the enactment of food laws. In fact, traces of concern for food safety can be found in America as early as colonial times. An example of this is the requirement of bakers to place their identifying mark on the bread to make them answerable in case of food poisoning.

Even if concern for food safety has been practiced for centuries, it was only in the past century when food safety has received considerably more attention in the United States of America. At first, food safety laws were only enacted by State legislature. This however made it confusing for food traders for every state would have their own set of standards and regulations. It was only in the year 1906 when the first set of federal food legislation was enacted by the United States. These two laws, namely the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act are the foundation of the present food legislation of the United States.