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Creating The FDA: The Pure Food and Drug Act Turns 107

This week, we celebrate the anniversary of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which led to the creation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for regulating medicines, monitoring our food supply and enforcing other laws that protect consumers. This law marks an important cornerstone in defining our nation’s standard of living and creation of a robust system of safeguards.

One hundred and seven years ago this week, Theodore Roosevelt signed this act, seeking to address an unsanitary and disorderly meat-packing industry as well as dangerous “patent medicines” that brought harm to both American workers and consumers. Enforcement of the Pure Food and Drug Act was later assigned to the Bureau of Chemistry, which was renamed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1931.

The FDA has a critical mission: It is charged with preventing foodborne illnesses like E. coli outbreaks and helping get products off the shelves when they are found to be harmful. Today, the scope of FDA oversight jurisdiction has broadened to include medical devices, cosmetics, certain electronics and tobacco products, both domestically made and imported.

Without food and drug safety safeguards in place, the economy and individuals suffer. We need to ensure that all product sold in the U.S. are safe — especially when it come to our children. Standards and safeguards are at the very core of our American way of life and need to be continuously fought for and protected.

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