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Law School Case Brief

Hipolite Egg Co. v. United States - 220 U.S. 45, 31 S. Ct. 364 (1911)


The Food and Drugs Act, 34 Stat. 768, declares that it is one for preventing the transportation of adulterated foods and for regulating traffic therein; and, § 2 makes the shipper of them criminal and § 10 subjects them to confiscation, and, in some cases, to destruction, so careful is the statute to prevent a defeat of its purpose. In other words, transportation in interstate commerce is forbidden to them, and, in a sense, they are made culpable as well as their shipper. It is clearly the purpose of the statute that they shall not be stealthily put into interstate commerce and be stealthily taken out again upon arriving at their destination and be given asylum in the mass of property of the State. Certainly not, when they are yet in the condition in which they were transported to the State, or, to use the words of the statute, while they remain "in the original, unbroken packages."


Thomas & Clark, an Illinois corporation engaged in the bakery business in Illinois, took a shipment of 50 cans of preserved whole eggs, which had been prepared by plaintiff-in-error/appellant Hipolite Egg Company ("Hipolite"), which was based in Missouri. For several months, Thomas & Clark stored the eggs in the storeroom in their bakery along with other bakery supplies. The eggs were intended for baking purposes, and were not intended for sale in the original, unbroken packages or otherwise, and were not sold as such. Thereafter, defendant-in-error/appellee United States ("Government") instituted a libel action in federal district court against the eggs pursuant to the Pure Food and Drug Act of June 30, 1906, c. 3915, 34 Stat. 768 ("Act"). The purpose of the Act was to keep adulterated articles out of interstate commerce; if adulterated products entered interstate commerce, the Government could seize the goods while in transit or at the intended destination, if the goods were in their original or unbroken packages. Hipolite intervened in the libel action as claimant of the eggs and filed a motion to dismiss the libel for lack of jurisdiction. Hipolite argued that the Act did not apply to the eggs, which had been shipped solely for use as raw material in baking and had been intermingled with other property of the Thomas & Clark bakery. The district court denied the motion and entered a decree finding the eggs to be adulterated and ordering their confiscation. Hipolite appealed.


Did the district court err in applying the Act to the eggs, which had been shipped solely for use as raw material in baking and had been intermingled with other property of the bakery?




The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the district court's judgment. The Court held that § 10 of the Act was applicable to the eggs, even though they had been shipped for use as a raw material. The eggs were still in their original packaging and they did not escape the scope of the Act by being intermingled with the Thomas & Clark's other bakery goods. The provisions of § 10 of the Act applied not only to articles for sale but also to articles to be used as raw material in the manufacture of some other product, the Court ruled.

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