By the early 1900s, the United States had grown heavily colonized and was relying on trade across borders and boundaries to meet the needs of its disparate citizens. Yet there existed no federal regulations regarding standards or safety procedures, which meant that consumers were forced to rely on the whims of ill-equipped manufacturers. Conditions in the food and drug industry’s production arm were ghastly – ice was the only source of refrigeration, milk was unpasteurized, chemical preservatives were uncontrolled, and medicines containing highly addictive substances, like morphine and cocaine, were being prescribed with impunity. Something needed to change.
In 1906, Upton Sinclair published his famously muckraking book, The Jungle, which revealed the conditions of the meatpacking industry to an aghast public. Society deplored the industry’s poor standards, which triggered the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. With prohibitions on trafficking foods, beverages, and drugs across state lines, the Act also discouraged shoddy and unsanitary production.