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This characterization of a narrow USDA role finds strong opposition from the USDA’s own American Egg Board (AEB), which “is funded by a national legislative checkoff” program and which consists of a board of eighteen members who are “appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.” The AEB website states that USDA graders first—before any grading takes place—examine eggs “for both interior and exterior quality.” Furthermore, an egg grader may only stamp eggs as meeting a certain grade if the grader determines “that the eggs have been processed, packaged and certified under federal supervision. . . . Plant processing equipment, facilities, sanitation and operating procedures are continuously monitored by the USDA grader.”
The federal government does have a legitimate role to play in making our food safer. But preventing people from making choices to eat certain foods based on absurd notions of toxicity (be it potatoes or Four Loko); basing food inspection on pseudoscientific methodologies and requiring all foods to pass within that uniform (and uniformly) ridiculous system (as with "poke and sniff" or with some of the inspections Joel Salatin criticized in my recent Reason interview with him); and attaching a false veneer of safety to certain foods based on their inspection status, are all thorougly unhelpful, wasteful, and dishonest ways to ensure food safety.
To learn more, read my article at the Northeastern University Law Journal website.
Baylen J. Linnekin, a lawyer, is executive director of Keep Food Legal, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that advocates in favor of food freedom—the right to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, cook, eat, and drink the foods of our own choosing.