Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Wholesome Poultry Products Act.

August 19, 1968

EIGHT MONTHS AGO I signed into law the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967. That landmark bill capped a crusade that had begun 60 years ago--to assure American housewives that the meat they served their families was pure, not harmful or dirty or diseased.

Today I am proud to sign a bill that will extend the same coverage to all poultry products. It is the fulfillment of a promise I made to every housewife--in my first consumer message just after I became President.

In the early days of this century, Americans took for granted that there were risks in buying food. They even joked about it in print. One newspaper printed a little poem:

"Mary had a little lamb,

and when she saw it sicken,

she shipped it off to packing town,

and now it's labeled chicken."

In 1968, we cannot tolerate the image, or the fact, of unwholesome food:

--Not when Americans last year consumed more than 12 billion pounds of poultry.

--Not when a full 13 percent of that supply--or 1.6 billion pounds--was subject to little or no inspection because it didn't cross State lines.

That loophole did not necessarily mean that all, or even most, of those 1.6 billion pounds were unsafe.

But it did mean that shady processors could avoid Federal inspection laws by distributing tainted poultry within the same State.

It did mean that the housewife often took an unnecessary risk--for her children and herself--when she bought a chicken.

The Wholesome Poultry Products Act of 1968 will insure that dirty plants will have to clean up or close down.

It will give a State 2 years to develop an inspection system as good as the Federal system. If, at the end of that time, the State has not done so, then Federal inspection will be imposed.

It will give the States financial and technical assistance in establishing inspection programs and training inspectors.

It will let the Secretary of Agriculture take action against any plant where the State fails to correct conditions endangering the public health.

When I was a year old--the same age as my grandson is now--President Theodore Roosevelt stated a principle which has survived the test of time: that "No man may poison the people for his private profit."

I believe that. I think all Americans believe it. And this bill will help us make sure it becomes a reality.

Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 16363) is Public Law 90-492 (82 Stat. 791), approved on August 18, 1968.

For the President's remarks upon signing the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967, see 1967 volume, this series, Book II, Item 541.
The statement was released at Austin, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Wholesome Poultry Products Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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