Up until the 20th century, there were few federal laws regulating the contents and sale of domestically produced food and pharmaceuticals. The history of the FDA can only be traced to the latter part of the 19th century and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Division of Chemistry.
Under Harvey Washington Wiley, its appointed chief chemist in 1883, the Division began conducting research into the adulteration and misbranding of food and drugs on the American market. Although they had no regulatory powers, the Division published its findings from 1887 to 1902 in a ten-part series entitled Foods and Food Adulterants.
Wiley used these findings, and alliances with diverse organizations such as state regulators, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and national associations of physicians and pharmacists, to lobby for a new federal law to set uniform standards for food and drugs to enter into interstate commerce. Eventually, in 1927, these alliances led to the creation of the FDA.
So, who was it protecting the citizens of Arizona from misbranding during the frontier years and long before the FDA came into existence? People like Doc Adams and Marshall Matt Dillon, of course.
A patchwork of state laws provided varying degrees of protection against unethical sales practices, such as misrepresenting the ingredients of therapeutic substances. But, the only real enforcement came from caring local friends and neighbors who experienced the damage first hand.
[Original video link removed by source] Here's a trailer -