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2 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 256 (1968)
The Wholesome Meat Act of 1967

handle is hein.journals/sufflr2 and id is 262 raw text is: THE WHOLESOME MEAT ACT OF 1967
The scope of this note is a detailed review and analysis of the provisions
of the Wholesome Meat Act' as it affects the meat industry, the govern-
ment agency charged with its enforcement, and the American consumer.
Particula attention will focus on the congressional intent and history of
enactment, existing prior legislation, modification and amendments to such
existing legislation, new provisions, and possible areas of litigation.
On March 4, 1907, the first Meat Inspection Act2 was signed into law.
It was amended only slightly in 1938.3 Since its original enactment, sixty
years ago, the entire livestock and meat processing industry has changed.
The Meat Inspection Act, however, remained substantially as it was en-
acted in 1907. As a result of the changes in industry conditions and the
non-change in the statutory control machinery, some unscrupulous opera-
tors began to take advantage of loopholes in the law; to sell meat unfit
for human consumption, and practice deceptive labeling and packaging
techniques upon the American consumer.4 To prevent such practices that
endanger public health and safety as well as defraud the public, the Whole-
some Meat Act was proposed.5
Although the United States Department of Agriculture had been op-
erating a very successful meat inspection program covering the interstate
sale of meat under the provisions of the Act of 1907, that law, as it existed,
left the states free to regulate and inspect meat slaughtered, processed and
sold intrastate.6 It was within the area of intrastate operations that the
United States Department of Agriculture surveys found conditions which
were responsible for the introduction of meat unfit for human consump-
1 Pub. L. No. 90-201 (Dec. 15, 1967), tit. I, § 1; 81 Stat. 584.
2 21 U.S.C. § 71, 34 Stat. 1260 (1907).
3 21 U.S.C. § 91, 52 Stat. 1235 (1938). (Amended section 91 generally).
4 Hearings on S.2147, S.2218, and H.R. 12144 Before a Subcomm. oj the Comm.
on Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Senate, 90th Cong. 1st Sess., 61 (1967).
5 President Johnson, on February 16, 1967, requested an updating and modifying of
the Meat Inspection Act, but it was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's reports
of the deplorable conditions in non-federally inspected plants which ignited the spark
that moved Congress to act. 44 CONG. Q. 2207 (Nov. 3, 1967).
6 Hearings on S.2147, S.2218, and H.R. 12144 Before a Subcomm. of the Comm. on
Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Senate, 90th Cong. 1st Sess., 243 (1967) (Remarks of
Congressman Thomas S. Foley of Washington). In 1967 there were approximately
17,000 slaughtering and packing plants in the United States of which 2,000 are federally
inspected under the 1907 Act and produce 85% of the meat eaten by American con-
sumers. The remaining 15,000 plants, which are small and sometimes seasonal, produce
the other 15% of American meat amounting to 5% million pounds. These 15,000 plants
might be located within one of the twelve states with voluntary (but inadequate)
meat inspection statutes, or one of the seven states having no inspection statutes, or
one of the twenty-nine having mandatory ante- and post-mortem inspection statutes
similar to federal statutes.

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