Popular Science Monthly/Volume 69/July 1906/Pure Food Legislation




THE facts and evils of food adulteration have been overwhelmingly established. They have been published in volume after volume of state and federal government reports, and have been sworn to again and again by competent experts. State courts have imposed fines, and in hundreds of instances manufacturers and dealers have confessed that their food is adulterated, and judgments are entered accordingly. Yet, the evil is so strongly entrenched in business systems that a proposition to put truthful labels on foods and drugs intended for interstate commerce has met continuous defeat for more than fifteen years at the national capital.

Most of the states have enacted laws to control the manufacture and sale of foods. Some of these laws are good. Others contain bad provisions in an otherwise good law, provisions intended to nullify the law as it may apply to the several practises which food legislation is needed to correct, and such provisions but serve to legalize some adulteration which would have been subject to prosecution at common law. The main principles of the state laws have been well established by the Appellate Courts of the states and by the United States Supreme Court in a long train of decisions. With this backing, some eight or nine of the states are thoroughly enforcing their laws, and, as a result, there is a marked betterment in the food supply coming into such states.

The State Food Control Officials have an organization known as the Interstate Pure Food Commission. The commission was organized in 1896 for the purpose of bringing about uniformity among the state laws and securing the passage by congress of a law to apply to interstate commerce. This commission has held annual meetings, and at each meeting resolutions were adopted setting forth urgent reasons for national legislation to supplement the state laws. In nineteen hundred and three at Saint Paul, Minnesota, the commission called a joint meetings of manufacturing interests, state officials and representatives from the Bureau of Chemistry and the Inspection Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture. The manufacturers were given the full privilege of the floor, the discussions were frank, and, as a result of the meeting, the officials were impressed with the fact that in the preservation of the large fruit and vegetable crops much of food adulteration comes from problems which the manufacturing interests are honestly endeavoring to overcome. As a further result of tins meeting, it was impressed upon all that food-control legislation should he correct labeling rather than prohibitive, except where substances are positively injurious to health.

The Saint Paul meeting was followed by a similar and larger meeting at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in the nature of an International Pure Food Congress, and an exhibit showing adulterated brands of foods. The Saint Louis meeting was the largest of its kind ever assembled, and was a week, day and evening, of frank, honest discussion among officials, scientists and representatives from the several manufacturing interests. The congress discussed antiseptics, artificial colors, fruit, vegetable, dairy and meat products, confectionery, baking powders, wines, beers, distilled liquors and drugs. Special committees reported resolutions on the various questions, and among the resolutions adopted was a unanimous endorsement of the Hepburn Pure Food Bill which had passed the United States House of Representatives the previous winter.

For more than twenty years the Bureau of Chemistry of the United States Department of Agriculture has thrown the weight of its influence to the investigation of food and drug adulteration and its effect upon health. This bureau has had the cooperation of the association of Official Agricultural Chemists in perfecting methods of food analyses and in collaborating on a set of food standards. It is the agricultural chemist who has detected and called the country's attention to the evils of food adulteration. Formerly laws regulating the sale of foods were left to the boards of health to be enforced, but it is only as the states have created divisions of chemistry in the Department of Health, or have turned the work over to their experiment stations, or have organized state food commissions and equipped them with laboratories, that results have been obtained under state laws.

Food and drug adulteration has grown up because interests have been permitted to violate certain principles of identification in the sale of their products. When purchasers know where a product was made, when it was made and who made it, and are informed of the true nature and substance of the article offered for consumption, it is almost impossible to impose upon the most ignorant and careless consumers. Trade-mark law requires correct labeling as to who made an article and establishes the principle that a man is not to sell his goods under the pretense that they are the goods of another man, nor can he use any means which will contribute to this end. This principle has been upheld in courts as not only necessary to secure to each man the fruits of his own toil, but also as a protection to the public against fraud. Only the one, however, whose trade-mark is infringed has a cause of action before the courts, and where there is a business arrangement, or where monopoly operates, to put the combined product of many factories into the market under that trade-mark which is most in favor with consumers the public have no remedy at trade-mark law. The large wholesalers oppose the proposition to have the label tell, under all circumstances, the name of the real manufacturer. The independent manufacturing firms strongly favor it. There is nothing so fatal to monopoly or so stimulating to the competition of individual merit as where law requires an article of merchandise to be always identified in the market with the name of the person or firm who made it.

Congress has passed several laws relating to inspection and correct labeling. In 1890, a law was passed authorizing the inspection of meats intended for export, and forbidding the importation of adulterated foods and drugs. In 1891, the meat inspection provided for in the act was extended to meats intended for interstate shipment. The provisions of this law were further extended in the Appropriation Act of the United States Department of Agriculture for 1905 to apply to daily products intended for export. In 1896 congress provided for the bottling of genuine whiskey in bond and its identification to the consumer by means of a tax stamp over the cork. In 1897 a law was passed prohibiting the importation of inferior teas, and providing for a board of experts to adopt standards by which to measure the quality of imported teas. The law and the provision authorizing this board of standards have been held to be constitutional by the United States Supreme Court. During the war with Spain a special tax was levied upon certain products, among them adulterated flour. The tax stamp served to identify the flour subject to this tax, and the business was at once destroyed. In repealing the war taxes the act relating to adulterated flour was not repealed.

In 1896 Congress passed an act providing for the taxing and labeling of filled cheese. Oleomargarine was a subject of federal legislation as early as 1885. This act was passed as a tax measure, and in connection therewith provided for the proper labeling of oleomargarine. This law was amended in 1902, fixing the tax on oleomargarine, colored to resemble butter, at ten cents per pound, and on the uncolored at one fourth of one cent per pound. It also taxes renovated butter, and requires it to be so branded.

The Appropriation Act of the United States Department of Agriculture for 1903 and subsequent appropriation acts have authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to put into effect the act of 1890 relating to the importation of adulterated foods and drugs, and to adopt and fix standards for guidance in the enforcement of the law. Appropriation acts of the Department of Agriculture have also authorized the study of the effect of antiseptics and artificial colors on the human system. It was under these acts that the chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, assisted by details from the medical staff of the army, experimented with the 'poison squad' and as a result has recommended against the use of salicylic, benzoic and boric acids to preserve foods.

Congress passed a good law in 1902 prohibiting the misbranding of foods as to the state or territory in which the product is produced. This law was passed primarily to keep western cheese producers from labeling their product as 'New York' cream cheese. The law applies, however, to all foods, and it puts into partial practise one of the important principles of identification, namely, where a product is made. Where a product is made is an important bit of knowledge. Foods sometimes have exceptional qualities by reason of certain conditions of climate and soil and skill in packing or preserving. And so it is that certain fruit, vegetable, dairy and wine districts are known for the superiority of their products. The producers in these districts have the right to an honest market, while consumers should have the means to identify the foods from such districts should they so desire.

Correct labeling as to the geographical place of production prevents imposition in another way. A man can pack cottonseed oil for interstate commerce and label it 'olive oil,' but if he is compelled to state that the 'olive oil' is packed in Georgia or Alabama, the public becomes suspicious that it is getting cottonseed oil. A 'New Orleans' molasses, packed in one of the glucose districts of Illinois, is open to the same suspicion. A can of 'salmon,' packed in Minnesota, is known by its place of production to be carp. Between products of the same class this law is effective; but between the imitation and the product imitated, it is of little avail, for raw materials can be shipped into a district famous for its cheese, jelly, syrup, wine or whiskey, and the label of the imitation then bears legally the name of that district which is in favor with consumers.

Federal legislation is incomplete. The Hepburn-McCumber-Heyburn Pure Food Bill proposes to complete it. Not by a tax, but by a law which will command all the principles of identification to be truthfully and fully represented before foods, drugs and liquors are allowed shipment from one state into another. Such a law will make it possible to follow fraud across the state border and to punish the person responsible for the manufacture of an adulterated or misbranded product. Such a law will tend to unify state laws, but it will not interfere with state laws nor will it protect that state which does not maintain equal inspection over its own commerce.

The attitude of the food interests toward pure food legislation is either passive or antagonistic. The meat packers represent to consumers that their meat is 'U. S. government inspected.' The act of 1890, which relates to physiological wholesomeness only, permits them to make this representation, although meats, 'U. S. government inspected,' may contain antiseptics, aniline dyes, cheap fillers and any other adulteration or misbranding which the packer may find profitable after the carcass has passed veterinary inspection. The packers are considered to be opposed to a law which will prohibit or make public these added adulterations. The butter people have secured all the special legislation they desire and of course take little interest in a general food law. In fact a general food law may in the end restrict the use of artificial color in butter.

The brewers support the bill. This is brought about by the influence of strict regulations in Germany. The wine growers favor the bill on account of the advantage which the port inspection gives foreign wines over the uninspected American wines. Wines, however, are largely distributed through the wholesale liquor dealers. The majority of wholesale liquor dealers are also rectifiers. The rectifier, either through lack of confidence in his product, or some misunderstanding regarding the purpose of the bill, is its strongest opponent. The wines of any firm openly supporting the bill are therefore liable to be discriminated against.

Some manufacturers of catsups and other condiments fear that the law will prohibit the use of antiseptics. Others announce that such articles can be put up without these preservatives. The manufacturers of imitation jams and jellies supported the law at first, believing that it would bring about a uniform system of labeling. The enforcement of the labeling provision under the state laws, however, is now proving that consumers prefer the genuine product. The independent firms which put up pure foods of all kinds are for the bill; but such firms are not organized, maintain no lobby, and with several aggressive exceptions write few letters to congressmen and do little of anything else to offset the influence which the organized interests array in opposition. The reasons for using antiseptics, artificial colors and flavors and otherwise adulterating foods may be controverted, but no one will deny the right of consumers to know it whenever such adulterations have been practised. Manufacturing firms realize this and they are preparing to meet what they know consumers will demand when law compels such labeling. The head of a large association of food interests well expressed this in saying: "I have lost sleep for several years trying to see some way around the movement, but there is only one thing to do and that is to prepare to meet it." The majority of the food interests are preparing. Firms which began several years ago to so shape their business are ready. Others will be ready, but they would like to see such laws postponed for one or two more years. When the expense of making the change is incurred and the pure food policy has been inaugurated, business itself will demand the enactment of strict inspection laws.

All practical reform must be financed. Pure food is a sentiment until put into practise in the dairy or factory. The practise does not continue without profit. The profit is uncertain, often impossible, until the laws of the state and of the nation command that every article of commerce shall be sold under its own name and upon its individual merits.

In the enforcement of the state laws, in the committee hearings concerning the proposed national law, the dominant questions have been, and, in the event of the passage of the national law, will be, artificial colors, antiseptics, standards and labeling. And at the present time the adulteration and misbranding of drugs and liquors occupy a prominent place in the pure food issue.

Artificial Colors

In a pinch of aniline dye there is all of the color which a cherry-tree can produce in one season. The cherry juice or the cherry jelly is refreshing and invigorating, while the aniline dye, whether harmful or harmless, is without food value, lifeless and dead.

Genuine color and flavor are the truest representations of quality and purity, and the artificial color or flavor is per se a deception. Even in confections when the product purports to be flavored with lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, etc., and is not, the artificial color or flavor works a fraud. With the aid of color every article of food has been in appearance successfully imitated. With artificial color to depend upon, there is little need for selecting the best suited feeds and treating and culturing cream in such a manner as to produce a delicious butter with sufficient natural color. Little attention need be paid to the growing of fruit and vegetables uniform in color and quality, or to the treatment of the wholesale lot so that it will be uniform when it leaves the process of preservation, since no care in production or preservation can produce a color which can compete with that added by the aniline dye.

The manufacturers claim, and it can not be disputed, that the use of a harmless color to restore the appearance of a product of otherwise good qualities is not concealing inferiority, but makes the material, which is standard in all other qualities, pleasing to the eye. But where can the line be drawn? Once throw the gate open and the imitator enters with his saccharin and glucose, starch and waste products from the fruit factories and artificial acids to color compounds for the market which are often worthless and sometimes harmful.

Color should no longer be a subject of class discrimination. The dairy interests defend its use to improve the quality of cheese and butter; the packers, to change the appearance of their oleomargarine; the vinegar factories to help them make cider vinegar without apples; the French, to protect their industry in coppered peas; and all the imitators as their modus operandi in deceiving the public. In each and every instance it either deceives as to the quality of the product or aids in the sale of that which has no value, or assists the sale of some product under the name of another, at, perhaps, double its market price.


Antiseptic preservatives are substances to be restricted, if possible, prohibited. This is the conclusion reached in all legislation, in the reports of scientific commissions appointed by governments to inquire into the use of antiseptics in foods, and by the large majority of experts who have studied the effect of the long-continued use of minimum quantities upon the human system.

Those who employ antiseptics to aid in the preservation of foods do not defend this use because of wholesomeness, but because of conditions—honest problems—in the production and sale of soda fountain syrups, tomato catsup and similar articles put up ready to serve, and which remain open for a week or longer until the contents of the package are consumed. And in this defense the reasons come more from the market—'rough handling in shipping,' 'the hot grocery shelf,' and 'the careless consumer'—than from problems in production.

The antiseptic is the competitive foe of cleanliness and other hygienic practises which should attend throughout the production and sale of foods. The antiseptic is often used in foods of otherwise high standards, but it is more often found substituted for wholesome practises or ingredients. Its use discourages the perfection of healthful ways for keeping foods—chilling, sterilizing, ripening, curing and the combination of one food substance with another—which have not only given us food preservation, but have added delicious and wholesome variety to what we live on.

Some of the state laws specifically prohibit the use of antiseptics in foods. Other laws prohibit the addition of 'injurious substances' to food products, and in the enforcement of such provisions, as in Pennsylvania, for example, the court holds that such a provision applies to the use of a harmful antiseptic even in a minimum quantity. In Connecticut and Kentucky, while the law prohibits the addition of 'injurious substances' to foods, it also requires the use of any antiseptic to be made known to the purchaser or consumer. Under the enforcement of this labeling provision Kentucky, for example, has meats without boracic acid, milk without formaldehyde, jellies and fruit juices without salicylic acid, while some of the manufacturing firms are successfully putting up tomato catsup and soda fountain syrup without the use of benzoic acid or other antiseptic preservatives.

In a letter to the Kentucky department a manufacturer of tomato soup writes:

During the season of 1905 and henceforward the use of coal-tar dye and benzoate of soda will be entirely discontinued from our product, for we have arranged to make it entirely from fresh tomatoes in the height of the packing season which will enable us to produce a palatable looking article without the color, and relieves us from the necessity of putting away stock and preserving it with benzoate of soda to avoid fermentation.

In a letter from one of the meat packers it is brought out that one manufacturer is required to use boracic acid to maintain a competitive keeping quality with the other manufacturers, if there is no law or enforcement of law to prevent or make public the use of antiseptics in meats.

Writing of the experiment with tomato catsup without an antiseptic, the manufacturing head of one of the large firms says:

I believe that within five years, if that long, we could create ideal conditions in this country, and the consumer could be educated to take better care of such goods as are perishable and liable to spoil on his hands if not consumed within a certain time. Smaller packages would help to a large extent in that direction. In fact, there are numerous ways by which eventually we may accomplish that which is desirable to be done.

The head of the market end of the firm, writing about the experiment later says:

We are making a strenuous effort to have every variety of our goods absolutely pure and free from any antiseptic whatever. But you appreciate thorougly the enormous undertaking this is, and, further, the great interest which we have at stake which makes us proceed slowly. Starting several years ago with our experiments on tomato catsup, we put out at first five or six thousand dozen; the next year we doubled that; the next year we doubled that again; this year we are going to put out approximately four hundred thousand dozen catsup, which will be absolutely free from any coloring matter or antiseptic. With this season's work a success, we will have demonstrated beyond any possibility of doubt the putting up of catsup without any antiseptic. After that you will be free to say to every manufacturer who sells otherwise, 'Look at the thousands of dozens of catsup that. . . has on the market which stand the test of shipping, of climate, and, afterwards, the hot shelf of the grocery store, and still the consumer gets the goods in prime condition and is well satisfied with the flavor.'

Tomato catsup has been claimed to be the most difficult product to put out without some antiseptic.

Added or Otherwise

The provisions of the food laws and of the proposed National Pure Food Law apply principally to adulteration by addition and to adulteration by taking away. There is a third class of adulteration. Foods may be unfit for consumption by reason of inferior methods of production or preparation, carelessness in handling, inherent disease, and the spoilage to which foods are subject by their very nature. Many foods at certain stages of production or preparation are unfit for consumption—a green peach and new whiskey. Many of the fruits and fruit or grain products contain in their composition certain normal poisons, poisons which a food law would prohibit being added. It is said that in some instances these poisons are not active in the combinations in which nature puts them, but whether active or not active when people eat a natural product they know the nature of that which they eat, and when a food law requires this product to be put up in its best form and to be identified to the consumer, it has gone as far as is necessary.

The opponents of the Hepburn-McCumber-Heyburn Pure Food Bill argue that it is unfair, because it prohibits the addition of poisonous ingredients, and yet permits a poisonous ingredient when inherent or normal in the product. This argument is plainly invented to divert attention from the question of honest labeling. It seems at first plausible; but its fallacy and purpose are evident upon short analysis. The proposed law prohibits directly the sale of animal or vegetable substances which are diseased, spoiled, or otherwise unfit for food, and the majority of the other provisions of the bill apply indirectly to adulterations present without having been added. Adulteration by inferior methods of production or preparation necessitate the artificial colors and flavors, antiseptics and other added substances which the bill proposes to regulate. Imperfect natural food bears its own condemnation in its unpalatable flavor and inferior color, and such a food, therefore, must be supplemented and disguised by the added artificial before it will sell. When the artificial is added the law operates. Foods which possess a natural color and flavor pleasing to consumers are the result of the highest arts of production and preparation, and it is not for such foods that food control legislation is needed.

The whiskey rectifier or blender in particular has attacked the word 'added' in the following provision:

If the package containing it (the article of food) or its label shall bear any statement, design or device regarding the ingredients or the substance contained therein, which statement, design or device shall be false or misleading in any particular, provided, that an article of food which does not contain any added poisonous or deleterious ingredient shall not be deemed to be adulterated or misbranded in the following cases.

No open argument can be put forward against the first part of this provision, but from the overwhelming evidence of such misbranding, not only in the sale of liquors but in the sale of all foods, it is evident that there must be a powerful secret opposition to it. This opposition manifests itself in charges of 'government bureaucracy,' 'the tyranny of standards,' 'differences of opinion between scientists,' 'the competency of the agricultural chemist versus the competency of the physiological chemist in determining adulterations,' 'added or otherwise,' 'the constitution,' 'the enforcement of law by an individual instead of by the courts,' as if it were possible under the state and federal constitutions to enforce any law in case of dispute by other than the courts.

Application of the Law to Whiskies

The pure food issue covers, and should cover, all substances intended for human consumption, and the fact that any subject covered in the issue is difficult and unpleasant is the more reason why it should be included.

Whiskey is ethyl alcohol and natural flavor. Brandy is ethyl alcohol and natural flavor. The difference is the difference in flavor. The flavor of genuine whiskey comes from the grain, secondary products—fusel oil—distilled over with the ethyl alcohol and ripened into the flavors of 'rye' and 'Bourbon' whiskey. The new whiskey with its unripened secondary products is like the green peach, unfit for consumption. The quality of the flavor of whiskey depends upon the quality of fusel oil and the method and period of aging. The quality of the fusel oil depends upon the quality of the grain and water used, the preparation of the mash and the methods of heating and distilling. The new product is ripened by putting into charred oak barrels and storing these barrels in warehouses. These warehouses are under the lock of government officials, primarily to see that none of the product is taken away until the tax is paid. Whiskies may be taken out of this warehouse at once, or they may be permitted to remain for a period of eight years before the government collects the tax and ceases its control. Most of the whiskey, however, is tax-paid and removed from bond before it is three years old. The rectifier or blender claims that he has a process for producing palatable whiskey without the expense and delay of the barrel-aging process. The rectifier, however, colors, beads and labels his product in imitation of the aged whiskey. If the process has the merit which is claimed for it, there should be no injustice and all advantage in a law requiring rectified whiskey to be labeled for what it is.

When the tax is paid on distilled spirits the government puts a stamp on the product to show this fact. Formerly these stamps were only put on barrels. Consumers do not buy the product by the barrel, and so in 1896, following the investigation of the whiskey trust and the adulteration of whiskies, congress passed an act permitting a tax-paid certificate stamp to be put over the corks of bottles. Whiskey to be so bottled must have remained in the bonded warehouse at least four years, and must be bottled without the addition of any substance except distilled water to reduce it to one hundred proof. This law is optional. The four-year period of aging which it requires should be made compulsory for all whiskey.

No such supervision is exercised, on the contrary, over the business or product of rectifying. In fact, the rectifier or blender holds a government license to 'spuriously imitate' as he pleases, and a law is needed to restrain the adulteration which it is possible to practise. The natural flavor in genuine whiskey and the government tax are the dominant costs in production. The rectifier seeks to lessen these costs by expansion, or by the addition of artificial essences to neutral spirits to make a product which will taste and appear like genuine whiskey. Sometimes more or less genuine whiskey is mixed with this neutral spirit to help the flavor, and when such is the case, and when the flavors and other imitations added are harmless, the product has all the rights of the market provided it is labeled for what it is.

New genuine whiskey is often taken from bond before it is sufficiently aged and syrups are added to make it palatable. Green whiskey is unfit for consumption, and this practise should be prohibited. In one class of rectified whiskey the mixer not only seeks to avoid the cost of producing the natural flavor, but also to reduce the tax cost of the ethyl alcohol by incorporating some one of the non-taxed intoxicants, like wood alcohol. There are no statistics to show to just what extent this practise is carried on. It is such stuff as this which is sold in the 'dives' of cities and the 'blind tigers' of prohibition districts, and its crazing effect upon human beings is a matter of common knowledge.

The people who do not drink alcoholic beverages know little and care less about the composition and labeling of these products. "They are all bad because they contain ethyl alcohol, and there can be little difference between the adulterated and the pure." Some of the prohibitionists even fear that the investigation might help to 'legalize part of the traffic' But it would seem wiser to insist that the searchlight of chemistry and the law of the honest label shall be applied to all substances intended for human consumption, whether foods, drugs or liquors. And such a control for alcoholic beverages is the beginning of a far-reaching reform. Some things are worthy of the sentiment of state rights. The adulteration of alcoholic beverages is not one of them.


All agree on the general principles of pure food legislation, but a controversy arises when it is proposed to apply these principles to the sale of some special product. The name and describing terms given to or incorporated in the label of an article of food or drink have much to do with the price and supposed food value of the article so named or labeled. The imitation, where law does not prevent it, goes into the market under the name and trade terms of the product imitated, and is so mingled in the market with the general food that it is impossible for consumers to distinguish between the two.

It is the purpose of standards to determine and establish the normal constituents of each food substance and to so apply and restrict names and describing terms that consumers can at once identify the imitation from the genuine or the inferior from the superior. The interests which produce the genuine want this principle established; the interests which make the imitation do not.

The purpose of standards embraces the principle of uniform weights and measures. The law of weights and measures determines what shall constitute a pound or a gallon, and requires that when a pound or a gallon is contracted for the substance delivered shall weigh or measure according to the contract. The law of standards would require that a pound of butter and a gallon of honey shall be such, with all the qualities of good butter and good honey. This standard principle is well established at common law, but the statute and commission are necessary to put it into continuous effect. The impression has been created that it is the purpose of food standards to arbitrarily determine what people shall or shall not eat, when, the fact is, the purpose is not to prohibit but to identify. Food standards will prevent the arbitrary imposition upon consumers which dishonest labeling permits.

For protecting consumers and to meet the ends of justice in the enforcement of food laws it is not only needed to know what this man or that man or these two men consider the qualities of a pure product, but also, what the collaborated evidence from all of the scientists and of all practical experience establish these qualities and the correct method for determining them to be. This collaborated result is the standard, and is, from its very nature, a protection against error.

The legal status of scientific commissions appointed by the state and national governments to determine certain facts in order to intelligently enforce laws becomes an important question when the findings of such commissions affect large interests. In the enforcement of police regulations against ignorant offenders, and in matters of undisputed public importance or danger the rulings of executives and the findings of government scientists have been given the warrant of law without dispute. But in settling a question which concerns established business, the authority for the appointment and the powers of the commission to investigate such questions become a matter of great importance. Such a commission exercises, in the consideration and determination of technical matters, the combined functions of the legislative, executive and judiciary up to the point of putting its findings into effect. Its findings may go into effect by the mutual assent of the interests affected, as is, with but few exceptions, the case where the finding is correct. But if disputed, the finding can not go into effect with the warrant of law, except under the rules and as the weight of evidence.

In his great speech on the constitutional right of congress to pass legislation limiting the power of the inferior federal courts to grant injunctions against the decisions of a railroad rate commission, until after full review, Senator Bailey says in defense of giving such a commission of experts the fullest powers possible:

I do not believe that this legislation will lead to the end which some men fear. I believe that the ultimate effect will be to promote a better understanding among the railroads and the people. I believe that when it is made the railroads do the people justice, the people will feel less resentful toward the railroads; and we will deal with these questions with more of reason and less of passion. It will take the railroads out of politics and we will hear no more about railroad senators. I want to see every corporation driven out of politics.[1]

In opposing the pure food bill the senator says:

Thus it is that bureau after bureau is built up and we vest them with such extraordinary power, until the American people will become a bureaucracy instead of a democracy—a government in which the bureaus and not the people rule.

If the federal government has the power to pass an act regulating the use of adulterated, misbranded and imitation foods, it ought to stop when it writes upon the statute books that it will be a crime to commit such a commodity for shipment between the States and the foreign nations, and leave it to the integrity and efficiency of its judicial officers to vindicate the authority of its law.[2]

Why should not the senator's argument in favor of the rate commission also apply to the food commission? Why should not also the liquor corporation, the drug corporation and the packing corporation be 'driven out of politics'? Why should rate experts, with extraordinary powers, be trusted to make 'the railroads do the people justice,' and food experts, with no limitation upon the courts, be expected to build up a bureaucracy antagonistic to the people's interests?

But, aside from these questions and the 'efficiency and integrity' of the judicial officers, the district attorneys and federal judges can not enforce a pure food law without facts and these facts can only be secured through a 'bureau' or staff of trained chemists, working in well-equipped laboratories under methods of analysis which have been established beyond doubt to be correct. There may be some occasion to fear that errors will be made in securing this evidence. There is greater occasion to fear that the investigation will make public the deficiencies and adulterations which some interests know to exist in their misbranded products.

The pure food issue is not altogether an issue of 'fraud' and 'poison,' but it is more largely a question of scientific and business problems—problems attending the preservation, packing and distribution of what the people live on; problems which the colleges and universities have too long left out of their courses, and problems which the experiment stations and government departments have too long neglected to study in connection with the production of the fruits, grains and other products from which foods are made.

  1. Before U. S. Senate, April 10, 1906, Congressional Record, April 13.
  2. Before U. S. Senate, February 21, 1906, Congressional Record, February 21.