The Cranberry Scare of 1959: The Beginning of the End of the Delaney Clause
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The cranberry scare of 1959 was the first food scare in the United States involving food additives to have a national impact. It was also the first event to test the Delaney clause, part of a 1958 amendment to the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act prohibiting cancer-causing chemicals in food. Although lasting only a few weeks, the scare significantly affected the cranberry industry and brought the regulation of chemical residues in food to the national stage. Generated by a complex interaction of legislation, technology, media, and science, the scare had far-reaching effects in all areas of the cranberry industry, food legislation, and the perception of the public toward additives and residues in their food. The ripples caused by the scare permanently altered the cranberry industry and, after numerous subsequent scares and challenges to the law, eventually resulted in the repeal of the Delaney clause. The goal of this investigation was to demonstrate how the social, scientific, and political climates in the United States interacted and led to such an event. It shows how science, politics, and contemporary social anxiety combined, with technology as a catalyst, and how the resulting scare left significant marks on the development of both legislation and industry. It also improves our understanding of this seminal event in American social history by exploring the events surrounding the scare, as well as by comparing the perspectives and reactions of the public, the Eisenhower administration, the cranberry industry, and other industries affected by the scare and its aftermath.
Janzen, Mark Ryan (2010). The Cranberry Scare of 1959: The Beginning of the End of the Delaney Clause. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from