Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1947-1968 Chemicals in Food and Cosmetics

Chapter 22. Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives

Table of Contents

Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives (1789-1988) from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Committee records described in this chapter:

Select Committee to Investigate the Use of Chemicals in Food and Cosmetics (1950-52)

Select Committee to:VolumeCongress (dates)
Investigate the Use of Chemicals in
Food and Cosmetics
25 feet81st-82d (1950-52)

 22.159 During the 1940's, the number and variety of chemicals added to the Nation's food supply increased at an unprecedented rate, alarming certain scientists and nutritionists who questioned the long-term effects of these chemicals and challenged the adequacy of the testing process. Accordingly, on June 20, 1950, the House established the Select Committee to Investigate the Use of Chemicals in Food Products. James J. Delaney of New York was appointed chairman. Vincent A. Kleinfeld, Special Assistant to the United States Attorney General, was loaned to the committee by the Department of Justice to serve as chief counsel.

22.160 The committee was authorized to inquire into the extent and the effect of the use of chemicals, synthetics, pesticides, and insecticides in the production and preparation of food products and to determine the effects of such use on the public and upon agricultural stability. The committee also was directed to consider the use of chemicals, compounds, and synthetics in the manufacture of fertilizer and to analyze their effects on soil, vegetation, animals, the quantity and quality of food production, and public health and welfare. In October 1951, the committee was given the additional authority to investigate the use of chemicals, compounds, and synthetics in the production of cosmetics and determine the health effects of the practice. The committee's title was changed accordingly.

22.161 The select committee held 20 days of intermittent public hearings in Washington and Chicago from September to December 1950. Additional hearings were held on 39 days from April 1951 to March 1952 in six cities. Among the 217 witnesses who testified were Federal agency officials, prominent scientists and other experts, as well as representatives from the affected industries, medical and health organizations, professional associations, and consumer groups. The findings and recommendations of the committee were presented in a series of reports.

22.162 Records include correspondence, memorandums, and minutes of executive meetings of the committee. Samples of form letters sent to elicit information from scientists, manufacturers, processors, health organizations, and others are among the records, along with the replies to the form letters and accompanying documents. Records relating to the committee and subcommittee hearings include transcripts, correspondence with witnesses, and their prepared statements. There are reference materials stating the views of consumer organizations, educational and research institutions, labor and industry, and Federal agencies, as well as various lists, a statistical table, copies of bills and resolutions, and newspaper clippings concerning the committee inquiry. Copies of the committee reports, press releases, correspondence relating to personnel applications, material regarding committee finances, and committee mailing lists are also included.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.