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According to an AP article that appeared in our local daily this morning, one of the tools the federal government may use in going after Stewart Parnell and other management of the Peanut Corporation of America is the  Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.  Ironically, the 1938 law has its roots in an incident of corporate hubris and disregard for public safety not unlike the present salmonella-tainted peanut butter case.

"A spoonful of sugar," Julie Andrews sang in her role as Mary Poppins, "Helps the medicine go down."  In the middle of the Great Depression, the S. E. Massengill Company found something much better than sugar.  Or so they thought.  The disaster unfolds on the flip.

Sulfa drugs were the miracle of the first half of the twentieth century.  We toss around the term "wonder drug" rather casually these days, but in the 1930's Sulfa drugswere the miracle wonder drug, the archetype behind the term.  A game changer.   Sulfa:

was the first medicine ever discovered that could effectively treat a range of bacterial infections inside the body. It had a strong protective action against infections caused by streptococci, including blood infections, childbed fever, and erysipelas, and a lesser effect on infections caused by other cocci.
As the first and only effective antibiotic available in the years before penicillin, sulfa drugs continued to thrive through the early years of World War II. They are credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands of patients including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. (son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) (in 1936) and Winston Churchill. Sulfa had a central role in preventing wound infections during the war. American soldiers were issued a first aid kit containing sulfa powder and were told to sprinkle it on any open wound.
Wikipedia: Sulfa Drugs

For the developer and marketer of the first Sulfa drug, the Bayer AG division of German pharmaceutical company I. G. Farben, there was one teensy-tiny little problem.  In 1935 it was discovered that the actual active agent that made sulfa drugs effective had already been discovered -- as a dye-making agent -- in 1906.  It had been patented, its patent long since expired, and the formula now in the public domain.  It was a pharmaceutical company's worst nightmare -- after all their R&D investment, anyone could freely make sulfa drugs, without paying a penny of their profits to Bayer / Farben.

And make sulfa drugs they did.  In the libertarian fantasy world where there are no patents and copyrights, anyone can jump in and try to prove their mettle as the most efficient, lowest-cost producer; the most creative developer can try his hand at improving the product and marketing that proverbial 'better mousetrap'.  And that's exactly the environment that unfolded in a couple of heady years between the revelation of the drug's public domain status and the events that transpired in 1937, as hundreds of manufacturers jumped into the fray.

One of those manufacturers was a name that will be familiar to many readers today, the S. E. Massengill Company of Bristol, TN.  Although S. E. Massengill no longer exist as an independent company, the Massengill name is still in use as a brand of feminine hygiene products manufactured by Glaxo-Smith-Kline .  In June of 1937 one of its salesmen reported a demand for their sulfa drug, then available in tablets and powders, as a liquid.  The company chemist set about to fill that demand.  His goal was to develop a raspberry-flavored liquid version of the company's sulfa drug.  However, there were problems to overcome.

Despite the fact that sulfonilamide was relatively insoluble in the typical pharmaceutical solvents, Massengill's head chemist, Harold Cole Watkins, was not deterred
[H]e set out to find a liquid vehicle for sulfonilamide at the company and turned his attention to the glycols. He based this decision on their chemical similarity to glycerine, a commonly used solvent in liquid pharmaceuticals [19]. He soon discovered that he could dissolve as many as 75 grains of sulfanilamide in 1 fluid ounce of clear, odorless diethylene glycol. However, the resultant solution tended to separate on chilling, so he reduced the antibiotic concentration to 40 grains per fluid ounce
No animal or clinical tests were conducted by Watkins or the company at large to determine the toxicity of the individual ingredients or that of the combination. Any possible effects of diethylene glycol on sulfanilamide were also left to chance. The company's sole process for quality control consisted of checking the elixir for its appearance, flavor, and fragrance.
Pathophilia: Massengill's Elixir Sulfanilamide: Inspiration, Formula, and Distribution

Watkins' formula was sent to the company's Kansas City, MO branch where an initial batch of 40 gallons was mixed, and Watkins himself mixed another 40 gallon batch at Bristol, and shipped the liquid to distribution branches in New York and San Francisco.  By September, 1937 Massengill's Elixir Sulfanilamide hit the market.

Our research department has just released an Elixir Sulfanilamide...It is ideal for your patients who can take liquids—but little else. Also, it is not unpleasant to take, so is suitable for children.
Pathophilia, ibid

And then the children started to die.


"Nobody but Almighty God and I can know what I have been through these past few days. I have been familiar with death in the years since I received my M.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine with the rest of my class of 1911. Covington County has been my home. I have practiced here for years. Any doctor who has practiced more than a quarter of a century has seen his share of death.
"But to realize that six human beings, all of them my patients, one of them my best friend, are dead because they took medicine that I prescribed for them innocently, and to realize that that medicine which I had used for years in such cases suddenly had become a deadly poison in its newest and most modern form, as recommended by a great and reputable pharmaceutical firm in Tennessee: well, that realization has given me such days and nights of mental and spiritual agony as I did not believe a human being could undergo and survive. I have known hours when death for me would be a welcome relief from this agony." (Letter by Dr. A.S. Calhoun, October 22, 1937)
FDA: Taste of Raspberries, Taste of Death: The 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident

The majority of the victims were children.  Deaths were particularly gruesome:

Victims of Elixir Sulfanilamide poisoning--many of them children being treated for sore throats--were ill about 7 to 21 days. All exhibited similar symptoms, characteristic of kidney failure: stoppage of urine, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, stupor, and convulsions. They suffered intense and unrelenting pain. At the time there was no known antidote or treatment for diethylene glycol poisoning.
In a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a woman described the death of her child:
"The first time I ever had occasion to call in a doctor for [Joan] and she was given Elixir of Sulfanilamide. All that is left to us is the caring for her little grave. Even the memory of her is mixed with sorrow for we can see her little body tossing to and fro and hear that little voice screaming with pain and it seems as though it would drive me insane. ... It is my plea that you will take steps to prevent such sales of drugs that will take little lives and leave such suffering behind and such a bleak outlook on the future as I have tonight."
FDA, ibid.

Diethylene glycol, the liquid in which Watkins dissolved Massengill's sulfanilamide, may sound somewhat familiar to the automotive-minded among you.  It is related chemically to (mono-)ethylene glycol, commonly used as automotive antifreeze.   Ethylene glycol is highly poisonous, its most common victims being being cats and dogs which lag up the sweet-tasting liquid following an accidental spill, although over 3,000 cases of human poisoning occur in a typical year.  If Watkins had stumbled across the right literature in those pre-Google days, he might have discovered early studies, one in 1931 and one in 1937, linking diethylene glycol to deaths in experimental animals.  If he had asked the right people at the Food and Drug Administration, they might have told him they had been discouraging the use of glycols in foods and medicines for several years.

But he didn't, and the company didn't perform any of its own experiments, and the drug went to market and by the time it was over more than 100 people in 15 states, as far east as Virginia and as far west as California, were dead of its effects.


And then came the time for punishment, for penalties, for society to extract the price to be paid for such callous and reckless disregard for human life.  And there began another tragedy.

The S. E. Massengill Company freely admitted they had not tested their new concoction for harmful effects.  In fact, that was part of their defense:

A few simple tests on experimental animals would have demonstrated the lethal properties of the elixir. Even a review of the current existing scientific literature would have shown that other studies--such as those reported in several medical journals--had indicated that diethylene glycol was toxic and could cause kidney damage or failure. But in 1937 the law did not prohibit the sale of dangerous, untested, or poisonous drugs. Dr. Samual Evans Massengill, the firm's owner, said: "My chemists and I deeply regret the fatal results, but there was no error in the manufacture of the product. We have been supplying a legitimate professional demand and not once could have foreseen the unlooked-for results. I do not feel that there was any responsibility on our part." The firm's chemist apparently did not share this feeling; Harold Watkins committed suicide after learning of the effects of his latest concoction.
FDA: Taste of Raspberries, Taste of Death: The 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident

There was little, it turned out, that the federal government could do.  The most recent law to regulate medicines was the seminal Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906; subsequent attempts to update the law for the evolving industry had run afoul of the same conservative, pro-business Supreme Court mentality that had handed down the Lochner decision.  In the end, the Massengill company was found guilty of mis-labeling their product an 'elixer', which would have required that it contain alcohol, which it did not.  The company paid a fine of $16,800.00.

Now, as it so often does, the outcry of an enraged public, coupled with a scare put into the Supreme Court by the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1937 knocked down barriers that no longer dared stand in the way of reform.  In 1938, as a direct result of the Massengill case, Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, greatly strengthening the FDA's power to oversee the pharmaceutical industry, and giving the FDA broader powers than most of its counterparts in other developed countries in the industrial world.


So that, dear Kossacks, is where regulation comes from, not some bored bureaucrat sitting in an office in Washington trying to think up ways to make life miserable and expensive for some innocent and unsuspecting businessman, but from real human suffering and tragedy brought about, all too often, by people who shirk what should be obvious responsibilities, who neglect basic diligence, who sacrifice safety for profit.  They bring suffering on those who trust them and their products, and society adopts measures to make sure it never happens again.  We have to force them, through regulation, to behave as they should have been behaving all along.  That's how Regulations come to be.

Originally posted to dsteffen on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:20 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tip jar (57+ / 0-)

    Two decades after the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act passed into law, its provisions for the approval of new drugs served us well when they kept a drug called Thalidomide out of American pharmacies, even as it was setting the stage for horrible tragedy in Europe.

    People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

    by dsteffen on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:23:38 PM PST

    •  Great diary! (15+ / 0-)

      Fascinating to learn the history behind this.

      Reinvigorating the FDA, and purging it of corporate influence, is a huge priority for me. I hope the tragic peanut deaths will put this cause on top of our national agenda.

      Sweet are the uses of adversity...Find tongues in the trees, books in the brooks, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It.

      by earicicle on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:31:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  redefining mission in the new century. (12+ / 0-)

      Since its inception, FDA has been focused on the "medical model," whereby compounds and devices are evaluated on the basis that they diagnose, treat, or cure diseases.

      The deep structure of that model, is that there is a "normal" level of human functioning, and that downward deviations from normal are diseases.  The model fails to recognize that some deviations are not unhealthy as such, but represent nothing more than human variability or the effects of life processes or personal choices.  

      The model also fails to recognize upward deviations from "normal", in the form of enhanced functioning of the organism.  For example how much Viagra is dispensed to people who don't qualify for an ED diagnosis, but who just want it as "hydraulic insurance" or to enhance sexual experience?  For example how much Hydergine is being dispensed to people who are seeking to enhance their memory performance, for example in fields such as engineering and programming?  (plenty, I can tell you:-)

      I would discard the medical model in favor of one that is value-neutral about individual choices as to appropriate level of functioning.  Clearly there is need for regulation of compounds and devices as to "purity, potency, and claimed effects."  Clearly it should not be possible to market adulterated medications, or to claim effects that are not supported by research.  On the other hand, so long as a compound or device is safe when used according to instructions, there should be no attempt to ban it only because it does not fulfill the medical model of diagnosing or curing a disease.  

      I would also revise FDA Schedule I, to eliminate the "no medical uses" qualification.  Instead, replace it with "research use only, not approved for clinical applications" while keeping a high level of restrictions to prevent compounds getting loose on the streets.  As well, have a "sunset" on each Sched I classified substance, reverting it to Schedule II if the Sched I designation is not renewed periodically in light of public health findings.  

      There are signs of movement in the right direction.  For the past 5 years or so, FDA has been approving human-subject research with psychedelics (psilocybin etc.), of the type that has been banned for the past 40 years.  Scientists involved in these projects are well aware of their responsibilities and have exercised appropriate precautions.  Clinical applications are starting to emerge, for example in treatment of PTSD and as psychiatric adjunct therapy for people facing life-threatening illnesses.  Applications in cognitive research are also emerging and will probably expand over time.  

      Psilocybin and possibly one or two other compounds could and should be moved to Schedule II as data accumulate.  But in any case the current direction of greater openness to human-subject studies, is a good one and could serve as an example for further changes ahead.  

    •  Thalidomide was tested on military wives overseas (10+ / 0-)

      My mother had told me she was pregnant when I was 8.
      I kept waiting for a sister and finally asked her about it and she said there was no longer going to be a baby.

      Later in life she said the doctor aborted her because of the thalidomide, although she did not know what he was doing at the time.
      She was getting a pelvic exam and he did something that caused her a lot of pain and lost the baby right after.

      Military families were used for a lot of testing, I remember when we were given Formula 409 to try out.
      I don't know if they were testing for harm to us, but it was supposed to be a good thing that we got free stuff before civilians......

      NOW is time to uphold the Constitution and protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

      by Mulkum on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 05:44:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting. I didn't know that. (5+ / 0-)

        We've found out a lot about military personnel serving unwittingly as guinea pigs for research, and whole civilian populations in rare cases, but I hadn't thought about military families being easy targets.  That must have been hard for your mother.

        Thalidomide has actually been approved recently for limited use in some leprosy-related conditions and multiple myeloma.

        When I listen to some of those mile-a-minute disclaimers at the end of drug commercials on the TV, I sometimes wonder if there isn't stuff out there now that's damn near as bad.

        People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

        by dsteffen on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 05:54:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  ...doesn't sound right... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yuriwho, dsteffen

        There were very few thalidomide babies in the U.S., because the FDA approval cycle was much longer than the european cycles.

        Ironically enough, it's for back on sale now.  The problem in the original is that thalidomide comes in "left handed" and "right handed" versions.  The original mixture was half and half because the technology wasn't advanced enough either to separate them or to make only one.

        The active ingredient in thalidomide was fine; it was the 'wrong handed' and supposedly inert version that caused birth defects.  Now that they can make only the correctly handed version, it has been renamed and is available by prescription.

        •  Actually, the chiral forms interconvert (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Xapulin, Spoc42, dsteffen, quotemstr

          under physiological conditions and thus is does not matter whether it was produced as a racemate or as the correct asymmetric form. Either form would become a mixture of both in the body and thus the teratogenic effects would have happened regardless. Interestingly the experiment that proved this also provided a potentially useful compound for the beneficial effects. They substituted fluorine for the hydrogen at the chiral center making both versionsof the drug in a form that had the biological effects of each but were not inter-convertable.

          "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

          by yuriwho on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 09:43:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I took Mulkum to be saying... (0+ / 0-)

          ...her mother was overseas when this occurred.  I would presume with her husband while stationed there.

          In any event, I don't think the modern Thalidomide is prescribed for morning sickness, or any other condition where some fool might prescribe it to a pregnant woman.

          "{Drug name} should not be taken or handled by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, or who have ever been pregnant, or are the offspring of women who have ever been pregnant..."  Some of those disclaimers amaze me.  I wonder how in the hell they ever convince anyone to use their product.

          People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

          by dsteffen on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 10:50:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You are wrong (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The truth is sadly different.
          History of Thalidomide


          Thalidomide could not be sold in West Germany until its effects on animals were documented - usually effects of a drug are demonstrated on animals before the drug is administered to humans, but thalidomide was not tested that way. The sedative effects had not been seen in animals, so the Grünenthal scientists came up with a "jiggle cage" to measure the movements of mice to see if treated mice "jiggled" the cage less than non-treated mice. Grünenthal also pointed out that their "powerful hypnotic drug was completely safe.

          With only these animal tests, no clinical trial plans, and no scientific rationale, Grünenthal began distributing free samples of thalidomide to doctors in Switzerland and West Germany in 1955.

          The company began selling the drug over the counter in Germany in October 1957, under the brand name Contergan. The company claimed that "Even a determined suicide could not take enough Contergan to cause death" and "accidental overdoses by children would be unheard of with this drug." Soon the drug was being sold in 46 countries under "at least 37 names,"without any additional independent testing, and was the drug of choice for pregnant women with morning sickness. Not one of those statements turned out to be true.


          By 1960, Grünenthal was selling thalidomide tablets all over the world - except in the United States. A Cincinnati, Ohio company called Richardson-Merrell tried to change that in September 1960, when it applied for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to sell thalidomide in the United States under the brand name of Kevadon. The company wanted to begin sales of Kevadon in early 1961. This approval was not expected to be controversial, and the case was given to the agency's newest reviewer, Frances Oldham Kelsey, who had joined the FDA only one month before.

          At the time, the prevailing US law was the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which required proof of safety be sent to the FDA before a medication could be approved for sale in the United States. The law did not require demonstration of efficacy for approval. It also allowed "investigational" or "experimental" use of a drug while approval for its sale was being sought, meaning that a medication could be widely distributed before it was approved. The law gave the FDA 60 days to review a drug application. If the FDA reviewer told a drug company that its application for a particular medication was incomplete, it was considered withdrawn and the company would have to submit more data when it resubmitted the application. With each resubmission, the 60 days started all over again.


          Kelsey rejected the application and requested the aforementioned data from the company in a letter. Richardson-Merrell resubmitted the application but with no new information, and Kelsey turned it down again. She continued to request more data from the company, and with each request the 60 day clock was rewound to its beginning. As the end of 1960 approached, and with it the holiday season (the best time for selling sedatives), Richardson-Merrell began ratcheting up the pressure on the FDA and Kelsey. Executives and scientists telephoned and personally visited Kelsey, and executives complained to her superiors that she was nit-picking and unreasonable.

          Still, Kelsey refused to clear Kevadon for sale in the United States until she could review satisfactory studies. She later said that the reports submitted by Grünenthal and Richardson-Merrell were more like testimonials than results of well-designed, controlled studies.(One possible reason for the lack of data could be that Richardson-Merrell's "investigation" of thalidomide for its FDA application was organised and implemented not by scientists, but by the company's sales and marketing division.)

          She continued to reject the Kevadon application. In total, the company resubmitted its Kevadon application to the FDA six times, but no new evidence was given in those applications and Kelsey refused to budge.

          Under US law at the time, Richardson-Merrell had been legally distributing Kevdon on an "investigational" basis since early 1960, and pregnant women were included as patients after the first three months of the trial. American doctors were told,

          "We have firmly established the safety, dosage, and usefulness of Kevadon by both foreign and US laboratory and clinical studies. This programme is designed to obtain widespread confirmation of its usefulness in a variety of hospitalized patients. Doctors need not report results if they don't want to..."

          On November 18, 1961, the German paper Welt am Sonntag published a letter by German paediatrician Widukind Lenz. Lenz described more than 150 infants with malformations, including phocomelia, and associated them with thalidomide given to their mothers. A stunning statistic was that 50 percent of the mothers with deformed children had taken thalidomide during the first trimester of pregnancy. The limits of danger were amazingly narrow: women who took even one tablet of thalidomide between the 20th and 36th day after conception were at risk for delivering malformed infants - beyond that time, the drug caused no deformities at all. Lenz notified Chemie Grünenthal about the dangers of its flagship product; ten days later, German authorities removed thalidomide from the market against Grünenthal's wishes. Grünenthal withdrew thalidomide soon afterward from the market and notified Richardson-Merrell of its decision.

          Richardson-Merrill withdrew its Kevadon application in March 1962, but the sheer number and variety of brand names meant the drug remained available in some countries - thalidomide could be found in Brazil, Italy, and Japan as long as nine months after the German withdrawal.


          More importantly, a controversial bill by U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver, of Tennessee, was resurrected and rewritten, passed by Congress, and signed by President John F. Kennedy on October 10, 1962. The Kefauver Harris Amendment strengthened the FDA's control of experimentation on humans and changed the way new drugs were approved and regulated. Before the thalidomide scandal, U.S. drug companies only had to show their new products were safe; for the first time, they would have to show their new drugs were safe and effective.Informed consent was required of patients participating in clinical trials, and adverse drug reactions were required to be reported to the FDA.

          NOW is time to uphold the Constitution and protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

          by Mulkum on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 02:11:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Fall down, go bump (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, yuriwho, dsteffen, BYw

      Most regulations and most corporate policies have their roots in some sort of story - horrific, tragic, sad, or merely embarrassing.

      IMHO, every new regulation ought to come with a little sticker that tells the story that sparked that regulation. If people knew the story, more would accept the regulation with good grace.

      Unfortunately, my theory of stories and regulations doesn't help us to anticipate problems. We don't have those stories yet, except in our (sometimes limited, sometimes overactive) imaginations. So it is very hard to enact regulations except in reaction to events.

      -2.38 -4.87: Republican's definition of being a Republican = !Democrat

      by grapes on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 07:54:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Those who do not know history (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dsteffen, BYw

        are doomed to repeat it.

        This is such a true statement. History should be a required part of all curriculums.

        "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

        by yuriwho on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 09:49:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Libertarians and full scale wingnuts (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Xapulin, dsteffen, BYw

        Can often be stunned when confronted with the stories behind many of the regulations they parrot the media wingnuts about.

        Of course their brains compartmentalize it in about 20 min and then they go on as if they had never heard you.

        It is an amazing process to watch though and would be as entertaining as watching your boss hypnotized into barking like a dog at a party if it were not so depressing.

        The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

        by NCrefugee on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 04:42:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  A book recommendation (11+ / 0-)

    Protecting America's Health: The FDA, Business, and One Hundred Years of Regulation (2003), by Philip J. Hilts. Good descriptions of the Massengill Massacre and the thalidomide tragedy, as well as the event leading up to the creation of the FDA.

    "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."--Michael Corleone.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:34:44 PM PST

  •  Oh, and if you thought... (18+ / 0-)

    ...we were done with this crap, check out this diary by Asinus Asinum Fricat:

    1. Diethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient in automotive anti-freeze, is fraudulently labeled in China as glycerin and ends up in Panama, where it is added to cough syrup, antihistamines, calamine lotion, and rash ointment, killing at least 51 people and sickening 68. Diethylene glycol also lands in 260,000 bottles of cold medicine: Families report 365 deaths.

    May 2007: Customs officials in Panama find diethylene glycol in 6,000 tubes of toothpaste that came from China. In addition to United States and Panama, tainted toothpaste is later found in Australia, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

    Looks like we'll get to go through it all over again.

    People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

    by dsteffen on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 02:49:45 PM PST

    •  All well and good... (9+ / 0-)

      ...but safety testing and regulatory oversight have been notoriously lax despite the existence of the FDA. My daughter developed epilepsy at the ripe old age of 32 after taking her son's cold medicine (because it's all we had on hand) - Triminic. Which, along with other brands using the same deadly ingredient, were recalled less than a week later after reports of strokes killing young mothers.

      Aspartame is another ongoing case history in greed over common sense, and good ol' Monsanto's been deploying genetically engineered staple food crops worldwide for years sans any kind of safety testing or long term feeding trials whatsoever. The results keep coming in that GMO livestock feed causes infertility, but we thankfully were spared deadly GMO potatoes that turned rat organs into stone some years ago thanks to a whistleblower. More varieties are released annually. Sans testing.

      Wouldn't it be nice if our government regulators actually regulated the industries they think they have to promote instead?

  •  the good old pre-regulation days (14+ / 0-)

    From my Cooking and Fun Foods Page

    Anybody who thinks that the fact that almost all governments have regulations with respect to pure food (whether enforced or not) is an intrusion on human rights is invited to click here and read about the good old days.

    A sample quote: "With no laws to regulate the industry food suppliers cheerfully ripped off and poisoned their customers at the same time. Some of the most common frauds at the time was the use of ground Derbyshire stone in place of flour, fake Gloucester cheese coloured with red lead, baked horse offal in coffee, lead chromate in mustard and even iron bars in loaves to give extra weight."

    Libertarians should derive extra enjoyment from this, though the ones who find food law offensive really should make for themselves the above "Libertarian" versions of our daily foods as described above and try them. I think the horseshit in coffee would be especially appropriate.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:01:03 PM PST

    •  Good insights. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, Joy Busey, Tanya, emsprater, BYw

      Give people the opportunity to cheat and some will.  And once a few do, then either everyone does or they go out of business.

      Your Cooking and Fun Foods Page is interesting, but...

      Do not make lutefisk in the warm season.

      I'm not making any lutefisk in any season, warm, cold, or indifferent.  Sorry.  May be my loss, but it ain't happening.

      People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

      by dsteffen on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:14:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, there's always haggis (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but I no longer bother to post recipes, there are so many at google now that I point people interested in making the stuff to a search link there. Times have changed.

        Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 10:41:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  i would differ with you slightly... (6+ / 0-)

      If someone wants to market HorseShit Coffee, they should have every right to do so, provided that:

      a)  The horse shit is appropriately sterilized and does not contain harmful material such as heavy metals or toxic compounds,

      b)  The label clearly states, aside from in the fine print of the ingredients listing, that the coffee contains horse shit (for example, "Made with all natural horse manure!"), and

      c)  No medical claims are made for the coffee or for the horse shit in it.  

      Yeah, I'm serious.  It's all about consenting adults.  

      Further, I would also call for expanded labeling requirements as follows:

      Ingredients known to cause severe reactions should be listed in advisory labels above and beyond the ingredients label.  

      For example, soft drinks and other beverages that contain caffein should say so on the package: "contains caffein," for benefit of those for whom caffein causes strong or unpredictable reactions.  Better yet, state the number of milligrams per serving, to enable people to regulate their dosage.  This requirement would not pertain to foods that naturally contain caffein, for example coffees and teas; only to the use of caffein as an additive.  

      Same case for nut products, beyond the fine-print labeling that is currently required.  In this case it can be a matter of life and death for people with severe nut allergies.  Nuts as such wouldn't need the special labeling, since it's obvious what they are from the normal packaging (e.g. "Dry Roasted Peanuts").  

      •  Maybe, but marketing defeats "consenting adults" (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, G2geek, dsteffen, BYw

        every time. The Horse Shit coffee would be branded ("Janure"), the "active" ingredient listed would be equine offal (not horse manure), and no claims would have to made for the manure, just for the rich, robust flavor of the coffee with which it would be mixed. "It'll make you run like a racehorse."

  •  Tipped and Rec'd (6+ / 0-)

    Really interesting diary.  I was about halfway through before I recollected the scandal but you had some addtional information I appreciated reading. Thanks.

  •  I don't understand why the president of the (7+ / 0-)

    company hasn't been arrested. he killed 9 people, he knowlingly distributed a deadly bacteria. If you or I gave a hash brownie to a neighbor we would be in jail.

    To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

    by Tanya on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:26:04 PM PST

    •  It's just business. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spoc42, Joy Busey, quotemstr, Tanya, JVolvo

      It's not like it was a real crime or anything.  They can't put you on trial, convict you, drag you out in the courtyard, put a hood over your head, fire a bullet into your brain, and send your family a bill for the bullet, like they do in those backwards third world countries that don't understand how capitalism works.

      People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

      by dsteffen on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 03:31:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fire code (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dsteffen, jayden, BYw

    I saw a show on the history of fire safety in America, and one the firemen interview said that for every regulation in the fire code was the result of people having died for us to learn our mistakes.

    If Republicans wrote the fire code they way they want to run the FDA, thy would strip down the EXIST signs and sell defective fire alarms to make a few extra dollars.

  •  "No one could have foreseen the deaths..." (7+ / 0-)

    motto of conservatives. Great diary.

  •  Aviation Regulations too... (5+ / 0-)

    Nearly every U.S. pilot owns a copy of the "FARs", the Federal Aviation Regulations.  More than one instructor has pointed out that nearly every paragraph in those hundreds of pages is there because someone's failure to observe it caused fatalities.

  •  Outstanding diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dsteffen, jayden

    and here we are with poison peanuts and melamine tainted chocolates/milk/wheat gluten among many other deadly foods and drugs. It seems the anti-regulation republicans have unleashed another flood of poisoned products in the name of commerce. I hope Team Obama realizes that the FDA needs major reform. They should have their own mini-supreme court to decide all controversial cases that pit commerce vs. human well being.

    "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

    by yuriwho on Sun Feb 15, 2009 at 09:31:21 PM PST

    •  Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, cactusflinthead

      And yes, here we go again.  Who could have predicted that foreign businessmen would be just as tempted to cheat and ignore safety as American businessmen have been?  Are we going to have to have regulations for them, too?  Who'd a-thunk it?

      People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

      by dsteffen on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 10:30:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Outstanding diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Xapulin, dsteffen, cactusflinthead

    I added the 'teaching' tag, so that it will appear in Daily Kos University, next week.

    DKU goes up every Saturday at 9 AM Eastern, but stays open all week.

    Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls, when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's bellies.

    by plf515 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 04:50:49 AM PST

  •  How dare they interfere with Adam Smith!? (snark) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    After all, the invisible hand of the market will correct everything according to the Republicans, right? (snark)

    Except the damage done to the people who are victims of their greed and stupidity. But they don't matter, because they're the "little people."

    Expecting business and industry to work perfectly without regulation is like expecting a major city to work perfectly without police, fire or emergency departments.

    It's bull and it's long past time the public called them out on it.

    "...Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." Richard Feynman

    by QuestionAuthority on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 12:01:05 PM PST

  •  glad to see you were rescued (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    excellent diary

    After taking several readings, I'm surprised to find my mind is still fairly sound. Willie Nelson

    by cactusflinthead on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:33:49 PM PST

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