Revision of the Pure Food and Drugs Act

December 18, 1934

Report Outline
Renewal of Administration Pressure for Copeland Bill
Background of Existing Pure Food Legislation
Administration of Present Food and Drugs Act
New Powers Proposed in Copeland Bill
The Copeland Bill in the 73rd Congress
Controversy Over Advertising Provisions

Renewal of Administration Pressure for Copeland Bill

The Most vigorous fight for revision of federal food and drags legislation since the passage of the original Food and Drugs Act in 1906 was carried on during the last session of Congress. Four different bills were introduced, three of them into both the House and Senate, and two series of hearings were held—the first in December. 1933, and the second in February and March of this year. None of the proposed measures came to a vote on the floor of either house, but committee hearings were the scene of hard-fought contests for and against proposed amendments. It is understood that some or all of these measures—and probably others—will be introduced soon after the new Congress convenes on January 3.

With the support of Secretary Wallace and Assistant Secretary Tug-well, as well as of President Roosevelt, the recommendations advanced at various times since 1906 by officials of the Department of Agriculture, together with additional features, were embodied in a bill drafted during the spring of 1933 and first introduced in June of that year by Senator Copeland (D., N.Y.). The bill proposed to bring cosmetics and false advertising within the scope of the law and to strengthen existing provisions.

The Copeland bill (popularly known as the Tugwell bill) was revised twice after the December hearings, and additional changes were made after the second series of hearings in February-March of this year. On May 16, 1934, a motion by Senator Copeland for consideration of the final draft was carried in the Senate by a vote of 26–22, but a threatened filibuster prevented a vote on final passage. The same bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Sirovich (D., N. Y.), remained in the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee of the lower body when the session adjourned. The bill was several times put on and taken off the President's “must” list toward the close of the last session.

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