Thursday, January 24, 2019

Food Labeling Started Because of...The Jungle?

Have you ever read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle? It’s a fictional work originally published in 1905 about the terrible conditions of the meat processing industry in the Chicago stockyard that effectively strong-armed Congress into taking action. The public outcry after the revelation of what went on in the Chicago factories led directly to the passage of the U.S. Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. Originally, Sinclair's motive was to draw attention to the migrant workers' plight in the Chicago meat industry. He famously said "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."*

Photo of The Jungle, bookcover
Courtesy of Library of Congress
Eventually, this legislation was superseded by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938, which, though amended, still remains in effect today. Then later, in 1990, Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act which required uniform nutrition labeling and regulated other labeling aspects, such as nutrition content or health claims.

Today, food labeling laws and regulation continue to evolve and expand, but who knew it all started in The Jungle?

*Lawrence M. Friedman, American Law in the 20th Century 61(2002).

No comments: