President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Meat Inspection Act on June 30, 1906. It was first initiated by Senator Beveridge of Indiana. The Meat Inspection Act brought the following reforms to the processing of cattle, sheep, horses, swine and goats destined for human consumption: .
• All animals were required to pass an inspection by the U.S. Drug Administration prior to slaughter.
• All carcasses were subject to a post-mortem inspection .
• Cleanliness standards established for slaughterhouses and processing plants.
A key influence on President Roosevelt was the book The Jungle written by "mukeracker" Upton Sinclair. In this book Sinclair wrote about the dangerous working conditions, filthy processing plants, and meat products contaminated with wastes, chemicals and human remains. The Jungle revealed some key issues not only about the handling of meat products but also conditions of workers in the meat packing factories.
Why did state governments begin to regulate the food industry in the 20th Century? One possible explanation is that regulation was enacted to create an entry barrier that protected producers of traditional food products from the competition provided by new substitutes. Another potential hypothesis is that regulation was desired in order to solve an asymmetric information problem in the market for food. If the regulations were in fact to help monopolize the industry and help the existing capitalists prices would have .
increased but historic data proves that that was not the case. The change in price of meat was in-line with the price index for that time but the quality of meat supplied to consumers did increase. This proves that the laws were actually to benefit the consumers and not the industrialist. .
Some people are of the opinion that the act that finally passed was lenient on the capitalists involved and that industrialist got the better end of the deal.