Breaking the Law with Corn Syrup: 1910 Edition

A tip by one of my readers has uncovered a fascinating report from 1910 in the Journal of the American Medical Association

One of the first breaches made in the defenses raised in the interest of the public by the passage of the national Food and Drugs Act, was that secured by the manufacturers of glucose. While the pure food law demands that the label shall tell the truth, the makers of glucose protested that they should be permitted to call their product by the more euphemistic term “corn syrup.” Permission to do this was granted, though the reason for such a liberal interpretation of the law in favor of the manufacturer and so evidently against the interests of the consumer, is not known.

Fortunately for the consumer, however, some of the states are not so accommodating to special interests. The state of Wisconsin, for instance, has a pure food law which requires that the label shall contain the naked truth rather than the skilfully adorned euphemism.

Speaking of compliance and consumer interests, today I presented an abridged history of meat packing plants and the Food and Drugs Act to one of the largest cloud providers. Now I am contemplating turning it into a full-blown presentation. Not sure if anyone else sees the connection, though, between VLANs and ground beef.

An ABC News investigation has found that 70 percent of ground beef sold in the U.S. contains “pink slime,” a meat filler that was once used only in cooking oil and dog food.

Yuck. And no, VLANs will never be sufficient on their own.

Speaking of history, in 1910 Wisconsin was influenced heavily by German political thought. It not only passed a pure food law but also elected the first Socialist mayor of any major US city, Emil Seidel. Called a “sewer socialist” for a preoccupation with keeping the city clean, he used regulations to close down brothels and casinos while creating parks, public works and a fire and police commission.

He left office after just two years when the Democrats and Republicans combined their votes into a single candidate and campaign effort. Milwaukee’s infrastructure improvements lived on but the moderate socialists and a pure food law that banned corn syrup are just a distant memory.

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