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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

About FDA

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Milestones in U.S. Food and Drug Law History


From the beginnings of civilization people have been concerned about the quality and safety of foods and medicines. In 1202, King John of England proclaimed the first English food law, the Assize of Bread, which prohibited adulteration of bread with such ingredients as ground peas or beans. Regulation of food in the United States dates from early colonial times. Federal controls over the drug supply began with inspection of imported drugs in 1848, although the first federal biologics law, which addressed the provision of reliable smallpox vaccine to citizens, was passed in 1813. The following chronology describes some of the milestones in the history of food and drug regulation in the United States.

 

 

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