Laboratory History

  • In 1886 with the Congressional passage of the Oleomargarine Act, a revenue laboratory was established in the Department of the Treasury
  • In 1887, the laboratory began examination of alcoholic products
  • In 1898 with the passage of the War Revenue Act, the laboratory began examination of alcohol-containing patented or proprietary medicines, drugs and pharmaceutical preparations, perfumes, cosmetics, wines, and mixed flour for tax classification
  • In 1906 with the passage of the Tax Free Industrial and Denatured Alcohol Act, the laboratory developed formulations for denatured alcohol for tax-exempt classification
  • In 1914 with the passage of the Smoking Opium Act and the Harrison Narcotics Act, the laboratory began analyzing narcotics and dangerous substances
  • In 1919 with the passage of the Volstead Act (illicit whiskey and smuggling prohibition passed with the 18th Amendment), the laboratory began to support illicit alcohol production and smuggling investigations. This was the beginning of Prohibition, the era of Elliott Ness and the Untouchables
  • In 1972, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) became a separate bureau within the Treasury Department
  • In 1987, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ATF and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was signed, transferring the public safety of beverage alcohol product responsibilities to ATF
  • In 2003 with the break-up of ATF, the industry regulations and revenue collection functions and jurisdiction was retained within the Treasury Department. A new bureau, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) was created. What was formerly the ATF Alcohol And Tobacco Laboratory became the Scientific Services Division, an integral part of this new Bureau.