Personal tools

Interested in disability history? Check out what happened Today in AT History!

Walter G. Campbell

From ATWiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Walter G. Campbell () was a chemist and the 3rd/5th Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Early Career

In 1907, Walter G. Campbell was one of the first 28 food and drug inspectors under Harvey W. Wiley, the first Commissioner of the FDA.[1] Wiley chose Campbell as Chief Inspector because of his great leadership skills.[2]

During his time as Chief Inspector, Campbell saw that many outrageous patent medicines were removed from the marketplace, and crises involving canned salmon and ripe olives contaminated with a toxin causing botulism, a paralytic virus, were resolved.[3]

FDA Commissioner

Campbell was originally offered the position of Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry after Wiley's retirement but he turned it down because he believed that a chemist should hold the position. The second Chief, Carl L. Alsberg, appointed Campbell to Chief of the Eastern District in 1914. Later, Campbell would become Assistant Chief under Alsberg and Charles A. Browne. Alsberg and Browne were more interested in the research end of the Bureau and left Campbell to handle most of the enforcement efforts.

Campbell first served as Chief of the Bureau from July 16, 1921 to June 30, 1924. He handed over the title in 1924 to Browne, a chemist. In 1927, following the split-up of the Bureau of Chemistry, Campbell re-assumed as the first Commissioner to head up the newly formed enforcement division known as, the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration.[4] During this time, he also remained director of regulatory work for the Department of Agriculture. He resigned from the directorship in 1933. In 1930, the FDIA became the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 1940, it was transferred from Agriculture to the Federal Security Agency.

The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938

Campbell recognized many of the weaknesses of the 1906 Act and fought tirelessly for the passing of the The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. He was unhappy however, with the provision of the Act that transfered jurisdiction over food and drug advertising and labeling to the Federal Trade Commission.


Campbell retired in 1944.


  1. "The Story Of The Laws Behind The Labels." FDA Consumer. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. June, 1981. Accessed on June 2, 2008.
  2. "Walter G. Campbell." U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed on June 2, 2008.
  3. "Walter G. Campbell." U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed on June 2, 2008.
  4. " FDA's tortuous history is steeped in chemistry]." Chemical & Engineering News. June 17, 1996. Accessed on June 2, 2008.