Reason contributor and Overlawyered jefe Walter Olson lays out the case against the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, a bill that would force anybody selling or storing food and selling it to a third party "to register with a new federal regulatory agency, submit to federal inspections, and, perhaps most significant, keep 'copious records of sales and shipment by lot and label.' Penalties for infractions will be very, very steep."
What could go wrong, asks Olson? For starters, two of the major players in this legislation, Sen. Dick "Tough nuts for poor DC kids in voucher schools" Durbin (D-Ill.) and Consumers Union, pushed the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which mandates expensive and generally useless tests for toys, clothes, and more, thereby squeezing small makers of same.
We are now being asked to trust a legislative process in which Durbin and CU will count as insiders to ensure that the law's provisions are shaped so as not to pose an undue or prohibitive burden on small producers far from the Washington scene. If there was ever a time when I would have trusted Sen. Durbin and Consumers' Union with such a task, it was before the CPSIA debacle. Not only did the Durbins and CUs of the Washington scene help bring us that debacle, but—much less forgivably—they have continued blindly or mendaciously to deny that there is anything that needs fixing about that law at all, even as its damage has mounted month upon month. They do not deserve our trust on this matter.
Quick reminder of basic insight too easily forgotten: Most food providers are not in the business of killing customers!