Throughout the year, and this month in particular, USDA celebrates 150 years of existence. The legislation that established USDA was signed on May 15, 1862, by President Abraham Lincoln. At that point, food safety wasn’t a major concern for the People’s Department.
The turning point for domestic meat inspection really came in 1905 and 1906, after Upton Sinclair published The Jungle. The details of the book described unsanitary working conditions in a Chicago meatpacking house, putting meat consumers at risk for disease. This led to the passing of legislation providing for meat inspection. Over the years, Congress passed the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the Egg Products Inspection Act, which the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) enforces.