This is a Feature of Nearly All Regulation

Via Overlawyered:

Sponsored by Congress' most senior member, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), HR 759 amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to include provisions governing food safety. The bill provides for an accreditation system for food facilities, and would require written food safety plans and hazard analyses for any facilities that manufacture, process, pack, transport or hold food in the United States.

It also calls for country of origin labeling and science-based minimum standards for harvesting fruits and vegetables, as well as establishing a risk-based inspection schedule for food facilities. "¦

The [Cornucopia] institute claims the preventative measures [on handling of food on farms] are designed with large-scale producers and processors in mind and "would likely put smaller and organic producers at an economic and competitive disadvantage."

You hear this all the time from proponents of certain regulations -- "even _____ corporation supports it."  GE supports global warming regulation.  Large health care companies support heath care regulation.  The list goes on forever.  That is because regulation always aids the large established companies over smaller companies and future upstart competitors.  Larger companies have the scale to spread compliance investments over larger sales volumes, and the political muscle to lobby Congress to tilt regulation in their favor (e.g. current cap-and-trade lobbying in Congress).  Regulation creates a barrier to entry for potential new competitors as well.

I hate to admit it, but regulation in my own business (which I neither sought nor supported) has killed off many of my smaller competitors and vastly improved our company's competitive position.  It is no accident that the list of the largest companies in heavily-regulated Europe nearly never change, decade after decade, whereas the American list has always seen substantial turnover.


  1. Bob Smith:

    Is there any evidence whatsoever that food safety is a bona fide problem in the US?

  2. Page48:

    Your observation is absolutely true.

    Because of a quirk of fate, I have been dealing with the effects of the Clean Water Act of 1972 for almost 30 years, and have seen the effect you describe first hand.

    Prior to the Act, there existed what were then known as the Major Oil Companies and a whole slew of smaller oil companies known as the "Independent" oil companies. The Independent's were gone by the late 1980's and the Major's morphed into what everybody now calls "Big Oil."
    But, to make your point - they persisted.

  3. Amy Alkon:

    Bob Smith asks the right question. I lived in New York City for 10-plus years, and ate at street festivals and off hot dog wagons, and now that I live in California, I eat at the local festival and sometimes brownies at a garage sale. And at restaurants of course, large and small, and really tiny. I have gotten food poisoning, in 20 some years of my adult life, fewer than five times. Three times, I think, but memory isn't my finest feature.

  4. CT_Yankee:

    In the early 80's I started predicting that the cold war would end when the USSR collapsed of it's own weight. With everybody watching and reporting on everyone else, no one was left to actually do anything. Now I see us losing the cold war we already won by creating regulations so strict that no American can produce or sell any product or service.

  5. Dr. T:

    "HR 759 amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to include provisions governing food safety."

    The Food and Drug Administration has been overseeing food safety since its inception in the mid-1930s. That's why the agency starts with the word "Food." What Senator Ding-Dong wants is to inject a level of oversight that would quintuple the size of the FDA and add tremendous recordkeeping and labeling requirements throughout all food-related industries. They might as well call it the double-your-grocery-bill and quadruple-your-restaurant-bill law.

    And to answer Bob Smith: The US has the safest food supply in the world. Deaths due to food poisoning are so few that they barely register in the statistics. Food poisoning epidemics get much publicity, but that's because they are uncommon events.

  6. Paul:

    Follow the money. I'd like to know if Congresscritter Dingell's campaign contributions are related to this.

  7. John Thacker:

    Food poisoning issues are one of those things where the coverage has increased even as the likelihood has decreased. Mine safety is a similar issue.