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Lecture - 10 - The Formation of USDA The government and...

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1 The government and food “laws, regulations & biotechnology” FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS helping to build a world without hunger The Formation of USDA ! In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln founded the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ! President Lincoln appointed a chemist to lead the Bureau of Chemistry, the true predecessor of the Food and Drug Administration. The Growing Meat Packing Industry • The expanding railroads provided transportation for livestock to markets where they were slaughtered. • In the 1870s, refrigerator cars were introduced and later the development of electricity allowed meat processing to become a year-round business. food laws became necessary as vast numbers of rural residents moved to large cities and could no longer grow their own food or have direct contact with the farmers who were raising crops and livestock. As the population became more urbanized, processed foods came to substitute for fresh produce in the U.S. diet. "The use of processed food then was even greater than it is today," Toward the end of the 19th century
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2 One of our first A food law that was eventually introduced in Congress in 1881 was based on an 1875 British food law. It would not have gained much support without the efforts of Harvey W. Wiley, a chemist and physician who then headed the Division of Chemistry in the Agriculture Department. But the law was weak and had little effect on the regulation on food products. Human Testing 'Poison Squads' Tested Chemical Preservatives In 1902, as Harvey W. Wiley, chief chemist at the Bureau of Chemistry, was trying to build support for a national food and drug law, he initiated what came to be called the "Poison Squad" studies. At the time, many questions were being raised about the safety and suitability of the chemicals used to preserve foods. Wiley decided that the easiest way to answer those questions would be to feed the substances, one at a time, to healthy volunteers along with their meals in what he termed "hygienic table trials." 'Poison Squads' The men agreed to eat nothing except what was provided to them. In the dining room at the Bureau of Chemistry, they ate large doses of a preservative, along with nutritious meals. Borax, salicylic acid, formaldehyde, saccharin, sodium benzoate, and copper salts were given to the men in gelatin capsules, which they swallowed halfway through the meals. The squad members were examined once a week by physicians from the Public Health & Marine Hospital Service. “Early version of reality shows” Wiley decided that if large amounts of a preservative caused even temporary discomfort in a volunteer, the chemical should not be used because there was no way to control how much any individual in the general population would receive.
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