Pure Food and Drug Laws, federal laws to ensure the purity and safety of foods, drugs, cosmetics, therapeutic devices, and related products. The term most commonly refers to two laws, the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. Since the national government lacks power to regulate manufacturing, the laws apply only to items sold in interstate and foreign commerce.

Prior to 1906 there was little protection from impure, adulterated, and misbranded foods and drugs. The 1906 act, which was passed after a long campaign led by Harvey W. Wiley of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, declared it unlawful to ship or receive in interstate or foreign commerce any adulterated or misbranded food or drug.

The 1906 act declared food to be adulterated if anything had been added to reduce strength or quality, to conceal damage or inferiority, or to render the product harmful to health; if any valuable ingredient had been wholly or partially removed; or if the product was composed of any filthy or decomposed substance. The act defined mislabeling, and declared that labels on drugs should tell the quantity or proportion of alcohol and narcotics.

The 1906 act with many amendments remained in effect until 1938. The 1938 act prohibits the distribution and sale in interstate and foreign commerce of foods, drugs, cosmetics, and therapeutic devices dangerous to health, and requires accurate and meaningful labeling. The act also forbids the sale of new drugs until they are adequately tested to determine their safety.

The scope of the 1938 act has been broadened by such legislation as:

The Miller Pesticides Amendment

(1954), which sets limits on the amount of pesticide residue allowed on raw agricultural products.

The Food Additive Amendment

(1958), which imposes strict control over the use of chemical additives in foods.

The Color Additive Amendments

(1960), which regulate the use of color additives in food, cosmetics, and drugs.

The Kefouver-Horris Drug Amendments

(1962), which provide stronger control over new drugs.

The Drug Listing Act

(1972), which strengthens labeling requirements and requires drug companies to supply the government with lists of the drugs they manufacture.

The Infant Formula Act

(1980), which requires that baby foods meet minimum nutritional and safety standards.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act

(1994), which regulates safety standards and health claims of dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.

These laws are enforced by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Meat Inspection Act of 1906, supplemented by the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point/Pathogen Reduction rule of 1996, provides for federal standards for the inspection and labeling of meat and meat products in interstate and foreign commerce. Meat inspection is carried out by the Department of Agriculture. The 1996 rule also requires that packinghouses periodically test their meat and meat products to ensure that they are not contaminated with harmful bacteria. The states have laws for foods and drugs that are not sold in interstate commerce.