Carl L. Alsberg
Carl L. Alsberg.gif
2nd Commissioner of Food and Drugs
In office
December 16, 1912 – July 15, 1921
PresidentWilliam Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Preceded byHarvey Washington Wiley
Succeeded byWalter G. Campbell
Personal details
Born(1877-04-02)April 2, 1877
New York City, New York
DiedOctober 31, 1940(1940-10-31) (aged 63)
Berkeley, California
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Emma Alsberg
Alma materColumbia College

Carl L. Alsberg (April 2, 1877 – October 31, 1940) was an American chemist who served as Commissioner of Food and Drugs from 1912 to 1921.[1] Alsberg was born to a secular German-Jewish family, the oldest of four children. His father Meinhard, a chemist who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1865, was a founder of the American Chemical Society. Carl Alsberg attended Columbia University, where he founded a literary magazine, The Morningside. He graduated from Columbia College in 1896.[2]

After teaching at Harvard University, Alsberg went to work for the U.S. government in 1908,[3] and within a few years was appointed the Chief of the United States Bureau of Chemistry, which would be renamed the Food and Drug Administration. In that role, Alsberg pursued an investigation into pepper adulteration at McCormick & Company which resulted in a fine and a court order that the company must label its product as "ground black pepper containing from 10 percent to 28 percent added pepper shells". Alsberg also investigated Monsanto's use of saccharin and the amount of caffeine in Coca-Cola.[4]

In 1921, Alsberg resigned from the Bureau of Chemistry and co-founded Stanford University's Food Research Institute.[4]

In 1937, he took a position at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1940, after visiting family in New York, Alsberg became ill with pneumonia on the train trip back to California and died in the hospital on October 31.[3]


  1. ^ "Carl L. Alsberg, M.D". Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  2. ^ Catalogue of Officers and Graduates of Columbia University from the Foundation of King's College in 1754. New York: Columbia University. 1906. p. 156.
  3. ^ a b DeMasi, Susan R. (2016). Henry Alsberg : the driving force of the New Deal Federal Writers' Project. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 13–16, 18–19, 35–37, 195, 224. ISBN 978-0-7864-9535-1. OCLC 956984803.
  4. ^ a b Blum, Deborah (2018). The poison squad. New York, New York: Penguin Press. pp. 273–279. ISBN 978-1-59420-514-9. OCLC 1024107182.

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