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Food Adulteration in the U.S.

Harvey Washington Wiley (1844-1930)
Foods and Their Adulteration (Philadelphia : P. Blakiston's Son & Co., 1907)
MU Libraries Depository
614.3 W648

Harvey Washington Wiley
Image credit: National Library of Medicine

Harvey Washington Wiley, a chemist and physician, worked as the chief chemist at the United States Department of Agriculture.  While there, he helped to study the effects of chemical preservatives on human volunteers.  This work convinced him of the need for food and drug regulation, and he became a crusader for a pure food bill.

Part consumer manual, part chemical treatise, the book on display here was the American successor to Friedrich Accum’s Treatise on the Adulterations of Food.  The colored plates were meant to illustrate the natural appearance of healthy beef.  The sale of diseased meat, often disguised with poisonous coloring, was a problem during this period.

Wiley’s efforts against food adulteration came to fruition in 1906 with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act.  He served as the first commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and went on to work as a research chemist for Good Housekeeping for many years.

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