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CONSOLIDATED LABORATORIES AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
[Authorized: NDCC 19-01]
               
Beginning in 1862, the Territorial and State Legislature established numerous laws prohibiting adulteration of food and other products, prohibiting use of certain drugs and other substances, and requiring proper labeling of food, drugs, and chemicals. Out of concern for public health, the Territorial Legislature passed the first law prohibiting adulteration of food and drugs in 1862 (T. L. 1862, Ch. 45). Several additional laws prohibiting adulteration of food followed before statehood.
                                                               
Under the progressive leadership of Edwin F. Ladd of the Agricultural Experiment Station, many North Dakota laws requiring purity of food, drugs, and chemicals were enacted by the State Legislature during the 1890s and early 1900s. The office of the Oil Inspector was created in 1890 and was appointed by the Governor for a two-year term (S. L. 1890, Ch. 107). The Oil Inspector was required to inspect and certify illuminating oils and gasoline for safety and purity. Prior to 1915, responsibility for product analysis and enforcement of North Dakota's pure food, drug and chemical laws, and regulation of warehouses, food establishments, and hotels, rested with the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Oil Inspector. The Hotel Inspector position was created in 1907 and was appointed by the Governor for a two-year term and had responsibility for safety and sanitary inspections in hotels in the state (S. L. 1907, Ch. 135).  The office of the Food Commissioner and State Chemist was created in 1915 (S. L. 1915, Ch. 200) and appointed by the Board of Trustees of the North Dakota Agricultural College. The Food Commissioner and State Chemist was charged with enforcement of North Dakota's pure food and drug laws and other commercial regulatory laws.  In 1917, the Food Commissioner was designated the Oil Inspector and supervision of the Hotel Inspector was assumed by the Food Commissioner in 1917 (S. L. 1917, Ch. 133).

In 1923, the Board of Administration was granted authority to appoint the Food Commissioner and Chemist (S. L. 1923, Ch. 220) and the office of the Hotel Inspector was repealed in 1933. Also in 1933 the State Legislature created the North Dakota Regulatory Department (S. L. 1933, Ch. 199). The Governor appointed the director of the agency and the assistant director who served as the State Food Commissioner and Chemist. The North Dakota Regulatory Department had overall responsibility for enforcing food, drug, chemical, and sanitary laws. The North Dakota Regulatory Department also assumed the licensing duties of the Attorney General in 1933. These duties were returned to the Attorney General in 1939 because an initiated measure in 1938 abolished the North Dakota Regulatory Department and created the State Laboratories Department. The State Laboratories Department was governed by the State Laboratories Commission. In 1973 (S. L. 1973, Ch. 36) the State Laboratories Department was officially designated as the principal state consumer protection agency with authority to investigate consumer complaints involving impure or adulterated food, drugs, and chemicals. The State Laboratories Department and Consumer Affairs Agency was governed by the State Laboratories Commission which consisted of the Governor as chairman, the State Treasurer, and the Attorney General. The Commission appointed the director of the agency (who served as Secretary to the Commission) and the assistant director served as the State Food Commissioner and Chemist. The purpose of the State Laboratories Department and Consumer Affairs Agency was to provide consumer protection by enforcement of various food, drug, beverage, and chemical laws. The Laboratories Department inspected and licensed weights and measures and regulated and licensed hotels, motels, restaurants, mobile home courts, boardinghouses, vending machines, grocery stores, bakeries, warehouses, bottling plants, and taverns.
                                                                               
As of July 1, 1987, the State Department of Health and the State Laboratories Department were consolidated to form the State Department of Health and Consolidated Laboratories. The Department consisted of two branches:  consolidated laboratories and health services which were further subdivided into sections (S. L. 1987, Ch. 263). The State Laboratories Commission became one of the branches in the newly created Department and was called the Consolidated Laboratories branch of the State Department of Health and Consolidated Laboratories. Other definitions and duties were changed to reflect the combined units. Legislation repealed the sections relating to the State Laboratories Department in 1995 and it was to be called as the State Department of Health (S. L. 1995, Ch. 243).  

CHRONOLOGY

1862       Passage of the first law prohibiting adulteration of food and drugs in the Territory (T. L. 1862, Ch. 45).

1885       Complaints were encouraged to inform on anyone selling “unwholesome food or drink without informing the buyer”. Legislation required that oleomargarine and other butter and cheese products be clearly marked (S. L. 1885, Ch. 64).

1890       Creation of the office of Oil Inspector who was appointed by the Governor (S. L. 1890, Ch. 107).

1901       Legislation required that the State’s Attorney prosecute anyone selling unwholesome or mislabeled food or drink (S. L. 1901, Ch. 4).
               
1903       Legislation required the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station to analyze suspicious food products and beverages on sale in the state (S. L. 1903, Ch. 6). Commercial fertilizers were to be regulated by the Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station (S. L. 1903, Ch. 101).

1905       The Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station was charged with preventing the “adulteration and misbranding” of drugs or medicines (S. L. 1905, Ch. 10) and given authority to prevent the sale of “Paris Green” an insecticide (S. L. 1905, Ch. 9). The Director was to issue certificates to approve the sale of formaldehyde as a fungicide (S. L. 1905, Ch. 7) and to enforce an act to prevent the adulteration and deception in the sale of paint (S. L. 1905, Ch. 8).

1907       Creation of the office of Hotel Inspector who was appointed by the Governor (S. L. 1907, S.B. 16). The Agricultural Experiment Station licensed and regulated commercial feeding “stuff” (S.L. 1907, Ch. 197).
               
1909       Licensing and inspecting of alcoholic beverages sold in the state was to be carried out by the Agricultural Experiment Station located in Fargo (S. L. 1909, Ch. 189) and the Food Commissioner or an agent inspected establishments such as groceries, cheese factories, dairies, slaughter houses, hotels, and restaurants to insure proper sanitation procedures had been followed (S. L. 1909, Ch. 188).

1911       The Food Commissioner was required to prohibit “impure snuff” (S. L. 1911, Ch. 277). Legislation created an act concerning the regulation of the sale of food products and beverages.  It also established the legal weight for lard and bread under the jurisdiction of the Food Commissioner (S. L. 1911, Ch. 236).

1913       The Oil Inspector was required to inspect coal imported into the state (S. L. 1913, Ch. 213). The Food Commissioner was to prevent the sale or manufacture of adulterated fungicides or insecticides (S. L. 1913, Ch. 171) and to prohibit false and misleading advertising (S. L. 1913, Ch. 3) and to inspect all cold storage and refrigerated warehouses in the state in accordance with the law (S. L. 1913, Ch. 94).

1915       Creation of the office (located in Fargo) of Food Commissioner and State Chemist who was an appointee of the Board of Trustees of the North Dakota Agricultural College and Experiment Station  and was charged to “enforce all the provisions of the Pure Food and Drug Act”  (S. L. 1915, Ch. 200).

1917       It was the responsibility of the Food Commissioner and State Chemist to regulate the installation and operation of soda water fountains (S. L. 1917, Ch. 216), and supervision of the Hotel Inspector was transferred to the Food Commissioner (S. L. 1917, Ch. 133).

1919       The Food Commissioner and State Chemist became the ex-officio State Inspector of Oils (S.L. 1919, Ch. 185).
               
1921       Regulation of the sale of eggs was the responsibility of the State Food Commissioner (S. L. 1921, Ch. 60) and the director of the regulatory division within the Agricultural College was to enforce the adulteration and deception in varnishes and substitutes for varnish products (S. L. 1921, Ch. 1).

1923       Legislation required the Board of Administration to appoint the state Food Commissioner and Chemist who had general regulatory control over laws such as food and drug, beverage, and oil. Duty of carrying out the legislation was the responsibility of the Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, the Inspector of Oils, Inspector of Hotels, Chief Sanitary Inspector, and the  Food Commissioner and State Chemist (S. L. 1923, Ch. 220).

1931       Legislation required the State Food Commissioner and Chemist to license and to regulate tourist camps (S. L. 1931, Ch. 299).

1933       The North Dakota Regulatory Department was created and the Director was appointed by the Governor. Also appointed by the Governor was a competent Chemist to be Assistant Director and known as the State Food Commissioner. Seven inspectors for the seven districts in the state were appointed by the Director. The North Dakota Regulatory Department was charged to assume all duties earlier given to the State Food Commissioner and Chemist and additionally the licensing duties previously carried out by the Attorney General (S. L. 1933, Ch. 199). Legislation repealed the Hotel Inspector position.

1939       An initiated measure was responsible for the creation of the State Laboratories Department. The newly created Department came under the supervision of a State Laboratories Commission consisting of the Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer.  The Commission appointed a Director and a competent chemist to be Assistant Director known as the “State Food Commissioner and Chemist.” Offices were maintained in Bismarck and licensing duties returned to the Attorney General (S. L. 1939, Ch. 258).

1973       According to the intent of the Legislative Assembly the State Laboratories Department was to serve the public in the capacity of a consumer affairs office and was to assume responsibility for consumer protection in the state.  “Consumer Affairs Office” was added to its title (S. L. 1973, Ch. 36). The State Laboratories Commission was composed of the Governor (as chairman), Attorney General, and the State Treasurer. The Commission appointed a director for the State Laboratories Department who served as the Secretary of the Commission and a chemist as the Food Commissioner and Chemist.

1977       The State Laboratories Department was required to license and regulate mobile home parks and campgrounds (S. L. 1977, Ch. 223).

1987       The State Department of Health and the State Laboratories Department combined to become the State Department of Health and Consolidated Laboratories (S. L. 1987, Ch. 263). The office of the State Department of Health and Consolidated Laboratories was charged to be the rulemaking authority and replaced the State Laboratories Commission.

1995       At the request of the Legislative Council the Legislative Assembly authorized that all references to the State Department of Health and Consolidated Laboratories be exchanged to the State Department of Health (S. L. 1995, Ch. 243).

2003       The six divisions within the State Department of Health include: Administrative Support, Bioterrorism, Community Health, Health Resources, and Medical Services. Within the division of Environmental Health was the Laboratory Services Division [NDCC 23-01].

SERIES

30623 Administration. State Laboratories Commission Minutes.
30319 Administration. General Correspondence.
30626 Administration. Audit Reports.
30625 Administration. Budget Reports.
30624 Administration. Ledger.
30320 Food Inspection. Inspector’s Reports and Correspondence.
30667 Food Inspection. Restaurant, Grocery, Hotel, Motel, Trailer Court, Tavern, and Beverage Distributer Report Index.
30323 Hotel Inspection. Correspondence.
30328 Oil Inspection. General Correspondence.
30877 Miscellaneous. Photographs.
31326 Registration Division. Beverage Registration Files.
31325 Registration Division. Poison Registration Files.

SOURCES

Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
Laws of Dakota Territory.
Legislative History of North Dakota State Agencies: Richard J. Wolfert State Librarian. State Library Commission, 1978.
North Dakota State Health Department Website.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

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