United States v. Lexington Mill & Elevator Co.
232 U.S. 399 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Lexington Mill & Elevator Co., 232 U.S. 399 (1914)

United States v. Lexington Mill & Elevator Company

No. 548

Argued January 5, 1914

Decided February 24, 1914

232 U.S. 399


The primary purpose of Congress in enacting the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 was to prevent injury to the public health by the sale and transportation in interstate commerce of misbranded and adulterated food.

As against adulteration, the statute was intended to protect the public health from possible injury by adding to articles of food consumption poisonous and deleterious substances which might render such articles injurious to health.

Where such a purpose has been effected by plain and unambiguous language by an act within the power of Congress, the only duty of the courts is to give the act effect according to its terms.

The inhibition in subdivision 5 of § 7 of the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 against the addition of any poisonous or other added deleterious ingredient which may render an article of food injurious to health is definitely limited to the particular class of adulteration specified, and in order to condemn the article under subdivision 5, it is incumbent upon the government to establish that the added substance may render the article injurious to health.

In subdivision 5 of § 7 of the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, the word "may" is used in its ordinary and usual signification, and if an article of food may not, by the addition of a small amount of poisonous substance, by any possibility injure the health of any consumer, it may not be condemned under this subdivision of the act.

202 F. 615 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction of subdivisions

Page 232 U. S. 400

4 and 5 of § 7 of the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, are stated in the opinion.

Page 232 U. S. 404

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