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Would You Volunteer to Eat Poison for the Government?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

the poison squad

Story at-a-glance -

  • The Poison Squad was the name given to a group of men recruited by chemist Harvey Washington Wiley, who took part in some of the first experiments to weed out toxins in the food supply
  • The experiments resulted in the creation of the first U.S. law to help protect the food supply, the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, otherwise known as the Wiley Act
  • It’s been more than 100 years since the first food safety law was passed in the U.S., but much still remains to be desired about the safety and transparency of the U.S. food supply
  • Foods are still commonly adulterated, packed with questionable additives or contaminated with pathogens
  • In many ways, the U.S. public as a whole is acting as the next poison squad by consuming an unprecedented multitude of food additives, chemicals, GMOs and gene-edited foods, the ultimate health effects of which remain to be seen

If you were around in the early 1900s, you may have looked forward to reading about “The Poison Squad” in your morning paper. Photos of the group, dressed up in their Sunday best and seated for their evening meal, were popular across the U.S., along with articles detailing their latest experiments consuming potentially poisonous food additives — and describing the resulting ill effects.

It was a time when food safety was an oxymoron, and it was commonplace to find not only adulterants in food — rock powder in flour or charcoal in coffee grounds, for instance — but also for foods to be anything but what was promised on the label.


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