The History of Food Regulations



since the beginning of time man has always been concerned about the purity and quality of the food and drink he consumes at home and in public throughout the years many civilizations have created rules and regulations to standardize food production as early as 1202 King John of England proclaimed the first English food law the ax seize of bread which prohibited adulteration of bread with ingredients like ground peas and beans although the US Food and Drug Administration or FDA was not officially created until 1931 Americans first began to supervise food consumption in 1784 when Massachusetts enacted its first general food law more recently from 1938 until the mid 1960s FDA warehouse and manufacturing facility inspections received little national attention and improvements were made on a voluntary basis federal policy began to change due to the influence of two distinct books early in the century the first was Upton Sinclair's the jungle which described the horrible working conditions of Chicago's meat industry this book led to federal inspections of meat facilities prompting the passage of the Food and Drug Act of 1906 the second book was Rachel Carson's Silent Spring which described the impact of DDT on the environment and its potential to contaminate the entire food supply chain Carson is credited for starting the American environmental movement and her writing continues to impact the agribusiness community these books received widespread interest consumers now wanted to know that their food was safe to eat and they demanded action when companies failed to provide the right products in a clean environment unfortunately in the early 70s government studies indicated that the FDA did not have enough staff or funding to adequately inspect distribution centers then in 1973 the business environment changed and the FDA prosecuted the CEO of a major food chain for uncorrect advised in a Baltimore distribution center from this action the message was clear dirty unsanitary warehouse conditions were unacceptable so food associations worked together to produce the voluntary industry sanitation guidelines for food distribution centers and warehouses in addition to food sanitation America wrestled with severe problems due to hazardous working conditions in the workplace in the 1960s over 1,400 people died each year in work related incidents as a result President Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health or OSHA Act which created an organization within the Department of Labor whose responsibility was to improve working conditions this new law empowered the federal government to conduct inspections and investigations issue citations and impose penalties in addition to OSHA hazard analysis and critical control points or HACCP were introduced by federal inspection agencies in 1996 eight a CCP transformed the food industry from an inspection driven enterprise to a prevention driven one shifting responsibility to each company in the food supply chain these companies needed to establish systems that proved to inspectors that all the necessary steps in the food supply chain from training new employees to proper cleaning of machinery were being taken every time today the Internet has substantially changed all segments of the food supply chain instantaneous news from blogs YouTube and Twitter feed the world with pictures stories and rumors through these technologies a new transparency has emerged and is quickly shared throughout society every time any new issue or problem emerges within minutes a website posting can spark a reaction good or bad about a food product advertisement or business practice this has resulted in greater scrutiny of the food supply chain and improvements to methods it is also resulted in a significant increase in government rules and regulations which demand the food we eat be totally free of contamination

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