Pure Food and Drug Act

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Pure Food and Drug Act
Full title Federal Food and Drugs Act of 1906
Enacted by the 59th United States Congress
Effective January 01, 1907
Public Law 59-384
Stat. 34 Stat. 768
Legislative history
Major amendments
Relevant Supreme Court cases

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 and poisonous patent medicines.[1] The Act arose due to public education and exposés from Muckrakers such as Upton Sinclair and Samuel Hopkins Adams, social activist Florence Kelley, researcher Harvey W. Wiley, and President Theodore Roosevelt.

Labeling of Habit-Forming Drugs

The Pure Food and Drug Act required that certain specified drugs, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, morphine, and cannabis, be accurately labeled with contents and dosage. Previously many drugs had been sold as patent medicines with secret ingredients or misleading labels. Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and other such drugs continued to be legally available without prescription as long as they were labeled. It is estimated that sale of patent medicines containing opiates decreased by 33% after labeling was mandated.[2] The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 is cited by drug policy reform advocates such as James P. Gray as a successful model for re-legalization of currently prohibited drugs by requiring accurate labels, monitoring of purity and dose, and consumer education.[3]


The Pure Food and Drug Act was initially concerned with ensuring products were labeled correctly. Later efforts were made to outlaw certain products that were not safe, followed by efforts to outlaw products which were safe but not effective. For example, an attempt to outlaw Coca-Cola in 1909 because of its excessive caffeine; caffeine replaced cocaine as the active ingredient in coca-cola in 1903. 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.

Food and Drug Administration

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, though the agency existed before the law was passed and was not named FDA until later. The law itself was largely replaced by the much more comprehensive Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.

See also

Further reading


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External links

fr:Pure Food and Drug Act pl:Ustawa o czystości żywności i leków
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  2. Musto, David F. (1999 (3rd edition)). The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195125096.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. Gray, James P. (2001). Why our drug laws have failed and what we can do about it: a judicial indictment of the War on Drugs. Temple University Press. ISBN 9781566398602.