As our food supply is becoming more globalized, we are more at the mercy of food adulteration. More attention was made of adulterated food in the famous book by Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. A series of magazine articles told of the activities of the meat-packing industry followed by Sinclair’s book which led to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act in 1905 and the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. Previous to this event, many young men had died during the Spanish- American War in 1898 from eating bad food in the form of canned meat they called “embalmed beef”. The food corporations of the time had pawned off rotten meat to the army that they could not sell elsewhere. Americans became aware from Sinclair’s book that described “meat packing plants where animal blood flowed in rivers; food and humans were covered with flies; workers fell into vats and were processed as lard; rat feces, rat poison, and dead rats ended up as sausage along with rusty, filthy water from garbage cans; and chemicals made rotten, contaminated meat odorless and healthy looking” (Linda Civitello, Cuisine and Culture: The History of Food and People, page 279).
The situation is certainly improved from those days, but food adulteration still exists in many forms. It is often important to look at the country of origin on many food items in our supermarkets. For example, canned mushrooms from the U.S. are hard to find. From product labels, I have noticed that they come from China or the Netherlands lately. That does not mean they are bad, but we should all be more aware of where our food originally comes from and make our own choices of whether to buy them or not.