Pure Food and Drug Act  

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Before the first Pure Food and Drug Act became law; until it was possible to buy, in stores or by mail order medicines containing morphine, cocaine, or heroin, and without their being so labeled.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Pure Food and Drug Act of June 30, 1906 is a United States federal law that provided federal inspection of meat products, and forbade the manufacture, sale, or transportation of adulterated food products or poisonous patent medicines. The Act arose due to public education and exposées from authors such as Upton Sinclair and Samuel Hopkins Adams, social activist Florence Kelley, researcher Harvey W. Wiley, and President Theodore Roosevelt.

Though the Pure Food and Drug Act was initially concerned with making sure products were labeled correctly (habit forming cocaine-based drugs were not illegal so long as they were labeled correctly), the labeling requirement gave way to efforts to outlaw certain products that were not safe, followed by efforts to outlaw products which were safe but not efficacious. Ironically, Coca-Cola Company's earlier advertising behind the Act was rewarded by an attempt to outlaw Coca-Cola in 1909 because of its excessive caffeine content as well as its cocaine content, albeit minuscule. In the case United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, the judge found that Coca-Cola had a right to use caffeine as it saw fit, although excessive litigation costs caused Coca-Cola to settle out of court with the United States Government. The caffeine amount was reduced.

The 1906 Act paved the way for the eventual creation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is generally considered to be that agency's founding date. The law itself was largely replaced by the much more comprehensive Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pure Food and Drug Act" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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