Wally Olson on The Great Egg Recall


Reason Contributing Editor Walter Olson, who works at Cato and blogs at Overlawyered, weighs in at The New York Times about the great egg recall of 2010:

Advocates cite the current outbreak, at last report limited to two related Iowa egg farms, as reason to enact pending legislation that would intensify federal regulation of food-making in the name of safety. Large food and agribusiness companies have generally signed off on most of the new proposals as acceptable. Many smaller producers, on the other hand, suspect there will be less room for them, and for local variety generally, in this reassuring new world of business and government cooperation.

Olson notes that 2008's Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, aimed at protecting kids from tainted toys, had just that effect. "Big Toy," notes Olson, was able to handle the regs easily and is doing fine (even though they were responsible for the imports that raised concern). Small boutique vendors were and are screwed.

 More here.

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  1. Egg-Cellent.

    1. Egg-sactly.

  2. Pennsylvania is a major egg producer, and its eggs are safe.

    Because of intensive state government oversight? No, because 20 years ago the industry got together and realized they needed to do something for the sake of their business, and established a voluntary safety program. Those that participate get to put a logo on their egg cartons.

    And what do you know? It works. And without the state clamping down. Shocking, huh?

  3. The contaminated eggs will undoubtedly combine the anon-bot singulaity to create: Egg-Fu!

    More on this Yellow Peril caricature of a giant chicken period.

  4. Certification is generally better than regulation. See, when the certification organization fails, its brand takes a major hit. There are consequences. When a regulator fails, it’s our fault.

    1. These marks on a product mean way more than any vague assurance of safety from a government agency. The people who work for these organizations depend on their skills and essentially never being wrong in order to keep their jobs.

      1. I like this idea. But are their methods to guard against disreputable companies setting up ‘dummy certifications’? Not because they, in the moustasche-twirlingly evil way that all businessmen do, intend to harm consumers (they can tie them to railtracks for that), but because they can’t be bothered.

        As I said, though, I like the idea, and far prefer it to govt regulation.

        1. Civil suits? Fraud is fraud.

          1. I guess I’d prefer something light-touch that could minimize infections and consumer threats before they occur, rather than suits after people have already been harmed.

            I think that a wholly open certification system with no external measures could not only harm vulnerable consumers, but create a dangerous demand for more onerous regulation.

            Perhaps a requirement to have the badge display a different mark (terror alert level?) according to the levels of precautions in place – if you run common vaccinations and tests of chickens, your certification can display a particular star. Simply an assurance that you’re not pulling one over on consumers, and allowing them to judge risk for themselves, rather than feeling assured government will do it for them.

        2. To move from an implicit “this is safe because the government is in charge” to one where people rely on certification boards, there is a gap which I have considered to be the main obstacle to this happening. Most people aren’t going to be swayed by a new random blot of ink on a package. They have to recognize what it is supposed to mean, then have experience that the ink blot actually made a difference.
          Consider the kosher symbol. Because of its regulations (mostly enhanced inspections), in many cases using a kosher product is probably safer than a non-kosher product. How many gentiles actually use this to their advantages, though?

          1. Lots of gentiles take advantage of the kosher symbol, it gives them a sense of security. See Non Jews Buy More Kosher Food Than Jews In USA. Lots of major food manufacturers (check out the labels on Heinz and Kraft) use the certification to up their food sales, and the target consumer isn’t Jews.

            1. Quick point, I wasn’t saying none did, just questioned how many used it as a matter of decision. The article does not address this but with hand waving.
              Thanks for the link. I wouldn’t have know how much food was in fact kosher!

      2. The whole Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) label sounds too much like the credit ratings cartel’s Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations. I have a knee-jerk “so what?” to all things govt certified.

        Also, did ARL just not give a flying fuck when OSHA pulled their recognition?

  5. Olson notes that 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, aimed at protecting kids from tainted toys, had just that effect. “Big Toy,” notes Olson, was able to handle the regs easily and is doing fine (even though they were responsible for the imports that raised concern). Small boutique vendors were and are screwed.

    Nobody, I mean no-fuckin-body, could have predicted that outcome.

    Okay, we all did. At the top of our lungs. Yet the majority in congress and Bush the Lesser) were too stupid (or beholden to big business) to.

    Also U.S. Rejected Hen Vaccine Despite British Success

    The best and the brightest. That’s why public employees get paid more than those in the private sector.

    1. To be fair, the hen vaccine may be linked to autism in chickens.

    2. The government rejecting the hen vaccine is a good thing. For once, they passed on a chance to create more regulations.

      1. From the article:

        There are no laws mandating vaccination in Britain. But it is required, along with other safety measures, if farmers want to place an industry-sponsored red lion stamp on their eggs, which shows they have met basic standards.

    3. Because the toy regulation was done poorly, we shouldn’t make a completely different regulation in a completely different industry. The logic fails.

      1. Because the toy regulation was set up with the input from large toy makers’ lobbyists to cripple smaller toy makers, we should in no way infer that the egg regulation will be influenced by large egg producers’ lobbyists at the expense of smaller producers, despite this also happening time and time again in other industries.

      2. Because the toy regulation was done poorly completely typical of what corporatist regulatory agencies that have been captured by industry do, we shouldn’t make a completely different regulation in a completely different industry that also shows every sign of being a captured, corporatist agency. The logic fails is ironclad.

  6. Maybe with all the rampant salmonella it’s time to reconsider the 5-second rule for dropped food:
    The Egg Recall: Rethinking the 5-Second Rule

    1. Our society is so obsessed with sanitizing every surface clean of bacteria that we destroy essential, healthy flora. I will never give up eating food dropped on the floor/ground. Dirt is good for you!

  7. Liberal view: These new regulations will really stick it to big agriculture. It’s about time the government stood up for the people.

    Reality: New regulations force small farms out of business. Big agriculture takes more of the market. Liberals complain about lack of locally grown food, try to get new legislation passed to promote independent farming.

    1. Liberals care only about intentions.

      Results be damned!

      1. The road to Hell isn’t paved with bad actions.

        1. No, they save those for buildings in Hell proper.

    2. It’s the Circle, the Circle of Vice.

      1. It’s the Vipper, the Vipper of Vip.

  8. That’s fucking rediculous. I would like to see some data on small boutique toy makers. Their markets are small and wouldn’t get any bigger if regulations went away. Reason must think liberarianism makes people stupid.

    1. “Max” demanding evidence is hilarious. Good spoof of Max, even if it’s not very believable.

    2. Try to donate some used toys to Goodwill. See what happens.

    3. Max, have you ever run a small business?

      1. Max, do you like gladiator movies?

    4. Small companies can’t afford the extra manpower to fill out paperwork and to have their own lawyer(s) on staff.

      The policies you favor make corporations bigger and more powerful and put them in bed with politicians. Why is this hard to understand?

  9. Let’s see – large toy makers cut corners disregarding safety regs and allow a relatively small number of shoddy and potentially (potentially, mind you) toys to reach the saturated market. Calls for legislation.

    One bad actor disregards existing safety regs, and trashes the Gulf of Mexico Oil 30+ year improving safety record. Calls for legislation and actual punitive restrictions on folks that were doing it right all along.

    A couple of probably nose picking Iowa ijits run a sloppy operation and sell some potentially tainted eggs, along with some actually tainted eggs. Calls for legislation.

    Sun comes up in the east, calls for legislation, citing some unnamed human’s alleged bad behaviour.

    Nice fucking pattern, that. Good thing the political class has an easily agitated chicken little populace at their disposal to make it easy for them.

  10. Fuckin’ a… just right-clicked the freak in the picture and apparently my suspicion about “camp” was correct. Gillespie, how lame

  11. Why don’t they all install educated Eggdicators on their farms? If it’s good enough for Willy Wonka, it’s good enough for me.

    And all the government regulators could go down the garbage chute…where all the “bad eggs” go.

  12. Good thing fringe dvdthe political class has an easily agitated chicken little populace atband of brothers dvdtheir disposal to make it easy for them.Results be damned!

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