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1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act

Theodore Roosevelt

1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act: Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th American President who served in office from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909. One of the important elements of his presidency was the Meat Inspection Act policy.

Definition and Summary of the 1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act
Summary and definition:
The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to inspect, and condemn, any meat product found unfit for human consumption and was designed to work in combination with the Pure Food and Drug Act.

The 1906 Meat Inspection Act meant that the preparation of meat shipped over state lines would be subject to federal inspection throughout the whole of the meat making process.

What was the Purpose of the Pure Food and Drug Act?
What was the purpose of the Pure Food and Drug Act do? The purpose of the Meat Inspection Act was to:

  • Established sanitary standards for slaughterhouses and meat processing plants

  • Authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct the ongoing monitoring and inspection of slaughter and processing operations

  • The Mandatory inspection of livestock before slaughter (cattle, sheep, goats, horses, mules, and swine)

  • The Mandatory postmortem inspection of every carcass after slaughter

Meat Inspection Act and the Food and Drug Act for kids
The Meat Inspection Act was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt on June 30, 1906, the same day as the Pure Food and Drug Act (PFDA)  and the two laws worked in combination with each other. They were the first federal laws to regulate foods and drugs in America and a direct result of the unsanitary methods used by the food industry that were revealed in 'The Jungle' written by the Progressive author Upton Sinclair. The Meat Inspection Act and the Food and Drug Act were important elements of Roosevelt's Square Deal Domestic Policy and key pieces of legislation during the history of Progressive Era.

1906 Meat Inspection Act History for kids
The 1906 Meat Inspection Act  and the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act were both widely accredited to the revelations made in a book called 'The Jungle' written by the Progressive author Upton Sinclair. Upton Sinclair exposed the unhygienic and
unsanitary methods used by the food industry that resulted in a scandal about the quality and purity of food sold to the U.S. public. 'The Jungle' became an international best seller, exposing Chicago's meatpacking industry, recounting shocking tales of diseased meat, of dead rats and the poison that killed them being thrown into the processing vats to be made into sausages.

1906 Pure Food and Drug Act for kids: Theodore Roosevelt
The public outcry that followed the publication of 'The Jungle' resulted in a government investigation which immediately changed the food laws in America. Upton Sinclair was condemned by the industry owners as one of the Muckrakers of the Progressive Era but President Theodore Roosevelt sent James Bronson Reynolds (a social worker) and labor commissioner Charles P. Neill to investigate Upton Sinclair's claims. Neill and Reynolds made surprise visits to the meat packing warehouses and factories in Chicago. President Roosevelt was appalled by the Neill-Reynolds report - Upton Sinclair's ghastly revelations were all true. Theodore Roosevelt immediately signed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act into law.

What were the Effects of the Meat Inspection Act?
Why was the Meat Inspection Act important? The Effects of the Pure Food and Drug Act:

  • Assured the American people that the federal government were taking significant steps to pass laws to improve the general health and welfare of the public and stop the unsafe and unhygienic practices of the Meat Processing companies

  • It gave credibility to the Square Deal domestic policy of President Theodore Roosevelt

  • It gave credence to the effectiveness of the 'Muckrakers' investigative journalism and their books that tackled social issues and the importance of the Progressive authors

  • The largest meat processors and packers resisted certain features of the act, but they accepted it as a means to drive out smaller businesses

US American History
1881-1913: Maturation Era

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