Climate Change Project

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Food Law / Police Power /Emergency Administrative Orders and Regulations

The Classic Case of Destruction of Bad Food without a Hearing - North American Cold Storage Co. v. City of Chicago, 211 U.S. 306 (1908)

Under its police power the State has the right to seize and destroy food which is unwholesome and unfit to use, and, in exercising such a power, due process of law, within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, does not require previous notice and opportunity to be heard; the party whose property is destroyed has a right of action after the act which is not affected by the ex parte condemnation of the state officers.

Where, under the police power of the State, the legislature may enact laws for the destruction of articles prejudicial to public health, it is, to a great extent, within its discretion as to whether any notice and hearing shall be given; and the fact that the articles might be kept for a period does not give the owners a right to notice and hearing.

The right of the State under the police power to destroy food that is unfit for human consumption is not taken away because some value may remain in it for other purposes, when it is kept to be sold at some time as food. Reduction Company v. Sanitary Works, 199 U.S. 306; Gardner v. Michigan, 199 U.S. 325.

The provisions in the cold storage ordinances of Chicago for destruction of unsafe and unwholesome food, are not unconstitutional as depriving persons of property without due process of law because they do not provide for notice and opportunity to be heard before such destruction, or because the food destroyed might have some value for other purposes than food.

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