As Smithsonian Magazine explains, beginning in 1919, a series of botulism outbreaks occurred due to a batch of poorly canned olives. The briny treats had been shipped from California, and were unknowingly harboring the deadly bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botulism is a rare, but serious illness. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cells of Clostridium botulinum thrive in low-oxygen environments, making improperly canned food the perfect breeding ground. Botulism causes a variety of symptoms due to muscle paralysis, which if left untreated can result in death.
In the 1919 botulism outbreak, nearly 20 people across three states died after contracting botulism from the tainted batch of canned olives (via State Food Safety). Per Smithsonian, the National Canners Association, the California Canners League, and other parts of the canning and olive industries responded quickly, working together to create a solution to the food safety crisis. These entities would create the Botulism Commission which would draft heavy regulations for canning olives.
The group also created a statewide inspection service overseen by the impartial California State Board of Health. These safety measures were one of the first forms of the modern U.S. food safety system. Today, there is little to no risk of getting botulism from canned foods, and modern technologies have also extended the life of canned foods even further.