Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Gordon Bettencourt
University of California, Irvine
Website URL
food history, regulatory history, pure food movement, food adulteration, food science, consumer culture, food activism, FDA history
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am a history PhD candidate writing a dissertation on the history of America’s food identity standards, a provision within the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 allows the FDA to create regulations about how foods are named and formulated. You may have seen these regulations in the news recently as a part of the conversation surrounding plant-based “milks” being allowed to be called milks. This project examines how these regulations were written, and who they were meant to protect. My research suggests that the food standards reflect broader 20th-century power struggles in American life between the administrative state, corporate influence, and grassroots consumer activists. This project uses the standards as an archive to help explain corporate consolidation in the consumer marketplace, the rise processed foods, and public health concerns like the obesity epidemic in the second half of the 20th century.

Recent Publications

“Like Oil and Water: Food Additives and America’s Food Identity
Standards in the Mid-Twentieth Century”
Diet and Disease
Edited by Dr. Matthew Smith and Dr. David Gentilcore
Bloomsbury Academic Publishing

“Encouraging a Broader Narrative of Pure Food Legislation:
Understanding the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of
Retrospectives, Volume 4 Issue 1

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Food History, Material Culture