In Food We Trust: The Politics of Purity in American Food Regulation, Courtney I. P. Thomas

Reviewed by A. Bryce Hoflund



In this book, Courtney I.P. Thomas explores the history of food safety regulation in the United States and discusses how a focus on food adulteration (food purity), rather than on microbial contamination (food safety), has permeated our food regulatory system since its inception. Through a historical analysis of food safety legislation and an examination of various food-borne illness outbreaks, she builds the case that our food safety regulatory system needs to be overhauled. The focus on the difference between food purity and food safety and their influences on the development and growth of our food safety regulatory system makes this book an important contribution to the fields of regulatory politics and food policy.

Through a discussion of legislation and court cases and an examination of the various roles of policymakers, regulators, producers, and consumers, Thomas provides a strong case for why food safety regulation should be viewed as inherently political. She begins with an examination of the country’s first two pieces of food safety legislation, the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the 1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act. Thomas argues that the 1906 statutes focused on the idea of food purity, which was defined in the statute as food that has been adulterated, to the detriment of food safety, which “emphasizes a science-based perspective groun

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor


Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.


A Purple Agenda For The Next Four Years
June 20, 2024
7:30 p.m.–9:00 p.m. ET


Editor’s spotlight

Virtual Issue

Introduction: Black Power and the Civil Rights Agendas of Charles V. Hamilton
Marylena Mantas and Robert Y. Shapiro


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

China in a World of Great Power Competition   CHINA IN A WORLD OF GREAT POWER COMPETITION

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS