Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Lettuce and Beef Recalls Show Food Safety Rules Can't Make Us Perfectly Safe All the Time

Despite the recent recalls, America’s food supply is remarkably safe. But it's not now, and likely won't ever be, perfectly safe.

Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press/NewscomSacramento Bee/ZUMA Press/NewscomThis holiday season has not been a good one for food safety regulators.

In December, a months-old recall of salmonella-tainted ground beef (that initially passed USDA inspection) was expanded to include more than 12 million pounds. And widespread contamination of romaine lettuce caused the Centers for Disease Control to take the unusual step of warning Americans not to eat any romaine whatsoever.

Since the romaine outbreak began began two months ago, more than 50 people across the country have been sickened by eating lettuce contaminated with E. coli, a potentially deadly bacteria, according to reports. Those same reports indicate the tainted romaine was grown in California.

These recent events have shone a new light on the failure of much ballyhooed regulations to improve food safety in America.

Nearly eight years ago, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law. The food safety law has been heralded as the most important food law in 80 years. It was intended to prevent, among other things, contaminated lettuce from showing up at our grocery stores.

While the law contained several provisions—such as one that pertains to the safety of pet food—two key provisions of the law were intended to improve food safety practices of domestic farmers and food producers. FSMA's produce rule, which covers lettuce and other crops, governs irrigation, fertilization, livestock and wild animals, worker hygiene, and facilities.

"For farmers, the law requires the FDA, the federal agency in charge of enforcing the law, to 'establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables,'" I describe in my recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable.

"For other food producers—from makers of fresh pasta sauce to Greek yogurt—the law orders the FDA to require food manufacturers to have in place a written plan for preventing transmission of pathogens that could cause foodborne illness."

Predictably, the recent nationwide food recalls have led some to call for even stricter food-safety regulations.

The empty lettuce shelves Americans have seen at our local groceries, a Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial last week suggested, "show just how much work lies ahead to modernize the nation's food safety laws." In 2010, those same editors hailed FSMA as a "a critical step toward making the U.S. food supply safer."

The Star-Trib editors note, correctly, that full implementation of FSMA has been delayed. That happened several times under President Obama and, more recently, under President Trump. Criticizing those delays as an obstacle to safer food sounds reasonable. After all, according to the FDA, foodborne illness is a "largely preventable" problem. But FSMA never has been, nor will it ever be, a tool for preventing more than a sliver of those illnesses. The FDA's own best-case scenario for improving food safety under these two key rules, I write in my book, is "just a 2.6 percent reduction in total foodborne illness cases."

That said, basic food safety rules aren't the enemy. One power granted the FDA by FSMA that I've long supported is the authority to order mandatory recalls of tainted foods. That authority—which the FDA always claimed it didn't want—has had a positive impact on food safety, including during the current outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Despite the recent recalls, America's food supply is remarkably safe. That's due to a combination of business practices, consumer demands, the threat of litigation, and—yes—regulations. But the stricter rules the FDA and others promised would make our food supply much safer under FSMA weren't even designed to do so. And that's OK. We can make the world safer, but we'll never make it completely safe. Some dirty lettuce and ground beef shouldn't lead us to layer on more regulations in pursuit of an unachievable goal.

Photo Credit: Sacramento Bee/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Lettuce beef? OK then, lettuce beef!

    My main beef here is that ionizing food irradiation could FIX these problems! But the FDA basically won't lettuce do it... Every time one proposes food irradiation of a different food type... Saying, irradiating a lettuce leaf of mass = 37.98247 grams... One has to spend $30 million to absolutely PROVE that it is safe! Make a minor tweak to your food, and propose irradiating a lettuce leaf of mass = 37.98242 grams instead... Then prepare to spend ANOTHER $30 million to absolutely PROVE that THIS is safe also!

    Would the FDA please go and all quit their jobs, so that we could eat safe foods?

  • LiborCon||

    Radiation in our food? But radiation is bad, it's even worse than chemicals. Isn't it enough that we're all going to get cancer from Wi-Fi?

  • SQRLSY One||

    If hats had been invented yesterday, they would cause cancer, too! Anything "new" is high-tech, and therefor, very-very-scary!!!

    Oh, hey, PS...

    On radioactive wastes (ionizing radiation), Google "radiation hormesis", and see USA government study of the Taiwan thing (accidental experiment on humans) at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC2477708/ … Low-dose radioactivity is actually GOOD for you! Seriously!!!

    On "helminthic therapy", AKA gut parasite worms are GOOD for you, too, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20054982 (USA government again) or others …
    Well anyway, WHAT is a summary of what I am saying? I thought I heard you asking about that, through my tri-cornered aluminum-foil hat, as I am sitting here…

    HERE is your summary: Holyweird is WAY off base, with their horror movies! A Giant Gut-Parasitical Radioactive Teenage Mutant Ninja Tapeworm would be GOOD for us!!! Bring it ON, ah says!!!

  • LiborCon||

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic and causes cancer.

  • SQRLSY One||

    I see that you have been talking to Arthur C. Clarke!!!

    Spot on, Chap!

  • Rich||

    the law orders the FDA to require food manufacturers to have in place a written plan for preventing transmission of pathogens

    "We will use the cleanest equipment. Our employees will be instructed to wash their hands thoroughly. We will not permit animals inside our processing plants, except, of course, for service and support animals."

  • Jerryskids||

    Sad that it's refreshing to see a take on the food recall other than "See? This is why we need regulation! If we didn't have regulation, the free market would allow this kind of thing to happen!"

  • JFree||

    What would help is restoring local truck farms. This time of year would still be dependent on CA/AZ for off-season stuff - since we have completely lost the agricultural innovation/productivity game to NL. But still - geographic diversity is the veggie/bug equivalent of free market competition. And that could be restored to some extent just by getting rid of the ancillary subsidies (energy, illegal labor, a fucked-up prop tax and mortgage and interest rate system) that all just encourage debt/capital to be deployed for ex-urban housing sprawl (consumption) instead of higher-value farming (production).

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Sorry, that is incomprehensible for the most part, and the rest makes no sense. What does local have to do with geographic diversity? What does any of that word salad have to do with clean food?

  • JFree||

    All these e coli type outbreaks occur in single locations - not in multiple locations simultaneously. Our dependence on those single locations is why those outbreaks cause such widespread problems when they occur.

  • I Callahan||

    Good luck growing romaine lettuce in Anchorage. See where this is going?

  • mtrueman||

    You want to eat your blubber without lettuce?

  • Echospinner||

    Nothing better than a good blubber, lettuce and tomato sandwich. You need a solid bread like a rye. The blubber should be crispy on the outside.

  • JFree||

    Well NL is the same latitude as Calgary. North of everywhere other than Alaska in the US. Not the same winter cold - but exactly the same winter darkness. And yet - it's the #2 food exporter in the world. And golly - the third largest exporter of lettuce behind Spain and US.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    That makes no sense either. What is a "single location"? If you mean individual farms, then great, stop buying from those farms, and even if these "single locations" are huge corporate farms, so what? The loss of business will hammer home the message either way.

    In fact, that sounds remarkably like an accountable free market solution! Why involve the government in this?

    If "single location" means country or state, then it is far too wide a definition and avoids all accountability, seemingly for the sole purpose of leaving that accountability in the hands of government. We all know (well, apparently you don't) how well accountability works at the government level.

  • JFree||

    What is a "single location"?

    Golly. Let's - eg lettuce - call it the Imperial Valley - which grows 90% of the lettuce sold in the US from Nov to March. That is a single location - all dependent on a single source of water too - a sourcing monopoly where an itty bitty bacteria/bug can quickly take it over and eliminate the supply nationwide. You just being deliberately moronic here?

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    So this Imperial Valley has resources are so cheap that they can profitably grow 90% of our lettuce supply .... and you want to replace it with lettuce grown elsewhere, where resources are more expensive and harder to come by.

    You know what? Markets and prices have a fundamental aspect that goes right over the head of you statist fucks. When something costs more, there's a reason, and it means more work, more effort, more complexity.

    Your solution would embrace that added difficulty and complexity and expect to get more efficient results. Can yee nae see what's wrong with that?

    Nae, yer a damned statick fuck who canna see his own nose.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • JFree||

    So this Imperial Valley has resources are so cheap

    SUBSIDIES make those resources cheap. And they make truck farming in other places more expensive (eg the homeowner subsidy which diverts debt/capital in exurban areas from farming (which can produce an income from and a return on that debt) to housing (where the debt is purely subsidized consumption).

    BOTH of which distort ACTUAL free markets - not that any of you dimbulbs even remotely understand how actual free markets work.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    So close ... you rail against direct subsidies without seeming to recognize they are government distortions, and double down by wanting government to distort markets by forcing society to subsidize inefficient locations.

    You can't seem to grasp the basic concept that governments are incompetent, or that government destroys liberty.

  • JFree||

    wanting government to distort markets by forcing society to subsidize inefficient locations.

    I do not WANT govt to do a damn thing except get rid of ALL the subsidies and distortions. Including - and perhaps particularly - the ones that YOU are addicted to.

    WHEN/IF that happens, then most food production (excluding some of the truly oddball specialty foods that can only grow into particular locations) WILL decentralize and get closer to the consumption. I know that because unlike you I know how actual markets work and I actually try to learn how different industries/businesses work and are structured.

    I do not delude myself that the status quo is a consequence of the free market - because IT FUCKING ISN'T. The status quo is a consequence of subsidies and distortions and cronyism - which means it will change if/when those are eliminated. And unless you too understand HOW that will change - based on facts/circumstance rather than ideological chanting, then you are as useless as tits on a bull in advocating for any of those changes.

  • Sevo||

    "I do not delude myself that the status quo is a consequence of the free market - because IT FUCKING ISN'T. The status quo is a consequence of subsidies and distortions and cronyism - which means it will change if/when those are eliminated. And unless you too understand HOW that will change - based on facts/circumstance rather than ideological chanting, then you are as useless as tits on a bull in advocating for any of those changes."

    Beat on that strawman!

  • Robert||

    It's not a straw man. Letter man imputed ideas to JFree s/he didn't have.

    Or did you mean letter man is beating on a straw man? That's true.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Did we suddenly lose interest in specialization and comparative advantage?

    If imperial valley switched to 30 different types of veggies that would only mean a different distribution of E. coli contamination. Sure it would be less disruptive to any given type of produce but the aggregate result would be the same. Perhaps worse because it would be harder to identify the source.

    Everyone who got sick ate romaine and therefore bingo.

    Much more difficult to identify a mixture of veggies that happened to originate in one place.

  • JFree||

    Did we suddenly lose interest in specialization and comparative advantage?

    What comparative advantage? From an online brochure about IV a little blipvert factoid - it takes more than 800 gallons of water to produce the food you consume in ONE DAY (caps in original)

    Well exactly how do you think the ImpVal - a DESERT - gets a comparative advantage in WATER?

    Further - is this factoid actually even true? Do these veggies grown there actually require that same amount of water everywhere - biologically? Or is the factoid only that the veggies that are grown there use a shit-ton of water because ImpVal gets a massive water subsidy so doesn't give a shit about conserving water as they would if water cost them money?

    Turns out that factoid is wrong. Veggies grown elsewhere actually require a lot less water. Most of the water there simply evaporates - no surprise to anyone who sees how lettuce gets watered there - repeat - that's a very hot DESERT.

    It's not rocket science to understand that simply pricing CO River water would change its usage along the whole watershed to higher value uses - and that lettuce producers elsewhere would lose their artificial DISADVANTAGE.

  • Sevo||

    "...a sourcing monopoly where an itty bitty bacteria/bug can quickly take it over and eliminate the supply nationwide."

    Oh, look! And idiotic hypothetical to support a lame argument! How JFree-ish, fucking lefty ignoramus!
    ------------------------------
    "You just being deliberately moronic here?"

    "Projection" ain't just a river in lefty-land.

  • JFree||

    Hypothetical? WTF do you think this recent lettuce recall is about? It is about e coli infecting Imperial Valley lettuce.

    No doubt you are so fucking stupid you think Mexican farm laborers are heading out to the lettuce patch to take a dump there and that's the source of the problem.

  • Sevo||

    JFree|12.8.18 @ 3:59PM|#
    "Hypothetical? WTF do you think this recent lettuce recall is about? It is about e coli infecting Imperial Valley lettuce."
    To an ignoramus such as you, I'm sure that made sense. To those of us with an IQ above room temperature, that's bullshit tossed on a wall in the hopes it sticks.

    "No doubt you are so fucking stupid you think Mexican farm laborers are heading out to the lettuce patch to take a dump there and that's the source of the problem."
    "Projection" ain't just a river in lefty-land.

  • Sevo||

    "What would help is restoring local truck farms."
    Yeah, the world needs more expensive food; not enough people starving.
    Idiot.

  • JFree||

    Netherlands is the 2nd biggest food exporter (by value) in the world. That means that they ARE the cheapest producer for many many crops. Yeah - the US is still bigger - but Netherlands has 1/270 of the area. That means they are doing that by focusing on technology - not by the US approach illustrated in the photo above which looks no different than the medieval era (or slavery era) - a bunch of exploited peasants each wielding one knife.

    Of course I wouldn't expect you to understand any of that since you are a complete twit.

  • Don't look at me!||

    So small local farms are going to have the latest technologies?

  • Rock Lobster||

    With the appropriate federal subsidies, yes, of course they will. In fact, it will be mandatory.

    The nice man from the government is here to help.

    He has a great big field similar to the one in the picture, but instead of illegal aliens picking lettuce, he has well paid, unionized, career civil servants harvesting hundred dollar bills straight from the ground, not tax payers. No, siree! In this way, the government is able to pass the savings on to you, the consumer. And best of all, it's a climate change friendly operation!

    Now move along, citizen.

  • JFree||

    re agriculture - it's actually the US that heavily subsidizes agriculture. Not so much via the overt direct ag subsidies we all love to hate. But via the subsidies for every single input that eliminate the normal MARKET economics where technology is mobilized/incentivized to deal with inputs that are viewed as scarce resources.

    Which is why those places can increase profits by reducing those inputs over time (which also has a side-effect of being climate-change and sustainable friendly) - while we can't do shit.

  • Rock Lobster||

    I'm not sure what you mean. And it seems like you are going out of your way to avoid clearly communicating that.

    Government should subsidize neither big agribusiness, small family farmers, nor technological "solutions" and any other of the inputs that you did not bother to name. Let the free market do its thing.

  • Robert||

    Government should subsidize neither big agribusiness, small family farmers, nor technological "solutions" and any other of the inputs that you did not bother to name.


    Like the subsidies that make transcontinental rail shipment attractive?

    Let the free market do its thing.


    Where did JFree say otherwise?

  • Sevo||

    Robert|12.8.18 @ 10:38PM|#
    "Where did JFree say otherwise?"

    Are you really trying to make a point, or are you a JFree sock hoping to garner symopathy?
    You've posted bullshit and strawman attacks from one end to the other of this thread. Wanna re-read the thread and your comments, or do we just presume you are either not real bright or some dishonest piece of crap?

  • Robert||

    You seem to be appending "...and have that be required by law" to his opinions w/o justif'n.

  • Robert||

    Besides, how can I be a JFree sock? I thought I was a Hihn sock!

  • Sevo||

    "...Not so much via the overt direct ag subsidies we all love to hate. But via the subsidies for every single input that eliminate the normal MARKET economics where technology is mobilized/incentivized to deal with inputs that are viewed as scarce resources."

    Cite missing, imbecile.
    And I'm sure we'll get it at the same time you name the company which forced you to buy their product.

  • Ride 'Em||

    I don't believe this is true. According to a report I recently saw from the OEDC, the US subsidies ran about 9.5% of farm revenues.. The EU averages 19.6%.

  • JFree||

    Average farm size in NL is roughly 60 acres.

    Average farm size in US is 435 acres. Even excluding the low-value high-volume grain production areas, the avg farm size in say CA is 320 acres.

    So yeah - not only do they have far more advanced technology available (see Wageningen University which is basically the world's Silicon Valley for food tech) - they also can retain the yeoman/family farm mindset rather than the plantation/land speculator mindset which is anti-tech because it is looking to ultimately sell to suburban development. That ability to invest capital in farming also turns farm labor into a blue-collar type job (10% of NL workforce is now 'agricultural') rather than a medieval peasant/serf wielding a knife.

  • Sevo||

    "Average farm size in NL is roughly 60 acres.
    Average farm size in US is 435 acres. Even excluding the low-value high-volume grain production areas, the avg farm size in say CA is 320 acres."

    Average relevance to the issue at hand: Zero.

  • Sevo||

    Maybe not zero, since there are entirely too many confounding variables, but if there is any relevance, it proves the exact opposite of your claim:
    It shows that smaller farms produce more expensive food.
    Get lost.

  • JFree||

    You really are stupid as a clod of dirt.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    And you are a statist fuck who only sees opportunity to grow the state. You will cherry pick (see the agricultural pun? Good for you) statistics to support your desire to grow the State.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Robert||

    Why do you keep misreading JFree as proposing a statist reform?

  • Sevo||

    Robert|12.8.18 @ 10:32PM|#
    "Why do you keep misreading JFree as proposing a statist reform?"

    See below, lefty apologist or fucking ingoramus.

  • Sevo||

    JFree|12.8.18 @ 3:18PM|#
    "You really are stupid as a clod of dirt."

    That's your best, on being handed evidence that your data shows the opposite of your claim? Why am I not surprised you're a fucking lefty?
    Oh, and I really am looking forward to the name of the company which forced you to buy their product.
    Fuck off, you pathetic piece of shit.

  • Rock Lobster||

    "You really are stupid as a clod of dirt."

    In agriculture, at least a clod of dirt has actual productive value. Unlike any leftist economic mumbo-jumbo that ignores the hidden costs of direct subsidies and tax based "incentives," not to mention compliance costs of Byzantine government regulation of the entire food supply chain from dirt to table.

    I'm sure the irony of your chosen insult escapes you.

  • Headache||

    That clod of dirt was shit on by an illegal alien worker.

  • Sevo||

    "Of course I wouldn't expect you to understand any of that since you are a complete twit."

    Oh, I understand entirely too well.
    Hint: Any country's export value of food has precisely zero relevance WRT the world-wide cost of food. So peddle your bullshit among the other lefty ignoramuses; they should bee dumb enough to fall for it.
    Oh, and did you ever find that company which forces you to buy their products? Still waiting...

  • mtrueman||

    "the world-wide cost of food"

    What is the world-wide cost of a head of lettuce?

  • mtrueman||

    "Netherlands is the 2nd biggest food exporter"

    No thanks to me. Passing through Schipol airport with some time to spare, I bought several packages of seeds for tulips and other plants and vegetables. When I arrived at my destination the whole lot were confiscated and presumable destroyed by immigration.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The peasants would better off if we replaced them with robots?

  • Cloudbuster||

    It will free them up to become entrepreneurial innovators in as-yet-undiscovered areas of human endeavor, because blah blah opportunity costs and blah blah labor-saving technology always ends up creating more jobs than it costs blah blah.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I eagerly await your patent for the automated romaine lettuce harvester.

  • Agammamon||

    But still - geographic diversity is the veggie/bug equivalent of free market competition.

    No. Just no.

    If geographic diversity could compete then that's what we would have. You're asking for *government support* of production in places not economically suited for production - the very opposite of 'free market'.

    We don't grow lettuce Mississippi because its not cost effective to grow it there. We grow it in AZ/CA because it is.

    Now, you can say that water subsidies make it profitable to grow in AZ and you'd have a point. The answer is to end those subsidies, not subsidize elsewhere.

  • JFree||

    If geographic diversity could compete then that's what we would have.

    Bullshit. Those truck farms which used to surround every city were not eliminated through mere competition. They were eliminated by subsidies. And I'm not saying we should subsidize other places. I'm saying those existing subsidies go far deeper and more extensively than you think. So getting rid of them is likely gonna gore your favorite trough-snarfing entitlement (eg your mortgage/homeownership subsidy, your energy/transport subsidy). I'm totally in favor of getting rid of all of them. You all are the ones who aren't once you realize what those subsidies are.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Your so-called solution relies on the State controlling production locations, which forces a subsidization you and every other statist will never admit -- that government distortion forces society to subsidize inefficient choices.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • JFree||

    No my solution does nothing of the sort. The advantage of truck farms is that they are very close to the actual consumption of the product. That means reduced energy use for shipping - which USUALLY means higher profit in a truly free market since energy is an actual input COST.

    You just want to continue to receive massive subsidies to make energy cheaper. So you live in denial that you are being subsidized.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    You want the government to force use of truck farms. That forces society to subsidize proven inefficient growing methods, all based on your fantasy that big farms breed e-coli.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Robert||

    You want the government to force use of truck farms.


    ...because JFree wrote...

    What would help is restoring local truck farms.


    Paranoia? Not bothering to read a para.?

  • Sevo||

    Robert|12.8.18 @ 10:51PM|#
    "You want the government to force use of truck farms.
    ...because JFree wrote..

    What would help is restoring local truck farms.
    Paranoia? Not bothering to read a para.?"

    Either you'e not real bright, or you haven't read the comments.
    JFree is a fucking lefty idiot who is but distantly connected to honesty and reality.
    Suggest you read the entire thread or STFU.

  • Sevo||

    "The advantage of truck farms is that they are very close to the actual consumption of the product. That means reduced energy use for shipping"
    Luddite bullshit:
    "Abstract
    This paper provides a critical commentary on the conception of food miles followed by an empirical application of food miles to two contrasting food distribution systems based on carbon emissions accounting within these systems.
    [...]
    The findings suggest that if a customer drives a round-trip distance of more than 6.7 km in order to purchase their organic vegetables, their carbon emissions are likely to be greater than the emissions from the system of cold storage, packing, transport to a regional hub and final transport to customer's doorstep used by large-scale vegetable box suppliers."
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science
    /article/abs/pii/S0306919208000997

  • Sevo||

    More:
    "The Inefficiency of Local Food"
    [...]
    "The intent is to remake the agricultural landscape to look more like it did decades ago. But unless the most basic laws of economics cease to hold, the smallholder farming future envisioned by the local farming movement could jeopardize natural habitat and climate change mitigation efforts, while also endangering a tenuous and temporary victory in the battle against human hunger."
    http://freakonomics.com/2011/
    11/14/the-inefficiency-of-local-food/

  • Agammamon||

    Engergy use for shipping is a miniscule amout of the total energy used 'from the farm to the table'. Its why its literally cheaper - without subsidy - to grow many things in one part of the world and ship them to the rest.

    Truck farms still leave you dependent on local growth patterns - which means there are now 'seasons' for foods again (something we haven't seen the US for 30 years) - and are subject to local disruptions - have bad weather locally and you're food suppliers aren't geared into a global supply chain then you have local shortages. Globalized food supply means that, as long as the supply chain itself isn't broken, weather problems (too wet, not wet enough, too cold/hot, infestsation, etc) aren't issues any more.

  • Sevo||

    JFree|12.8.18 @ 3:17PM|#
    "...Those truck farms which used to surround every city were not eliminated through mere competition. They were eliminated by subsidies...."

    Cite missing and I'm sure we'll get that at the same time you name the company which forced you to buy their product.
    There's a name for people with your level of intelligence: 3rd-grader.
    Fuck off.

  • Robert||

    You're asking for *government support* of production in places not economically suited for production - the very opposite of 'free market'.


    The only ones I see writing "government support" are imputing that to JFree. Maybe you're the ones who think anything good has to come from gov't, because your assumption seems to be that whenever someone says something's good, that must mean they want gov't to make it so.

    Do you think advocacy of legal cannabis or cryptocurrency or guns is the same as support for gov't's supplying it?

    Meanwhile JFree's pointing out that gov't intervention is what's produced the status quo s/he's criticizing. Seems s/he's got a credible case.

  • Sevo||

    "Meanwhile JFree's pointing out that gov't intervention is what's produced the status quo s/he's criticizing. Seems s/he's got a credible case."

    Full of shit.
    JFree is reduced to arguing against a strawman no one proposed.
    JFree's claim was that 'small truck farms' would somehow save us from produce-borne disease. When JFree was called on that bullshit, s/he shoved the goalpost to claiming that 'small truck farms' were more environmentally friendly.
    When called on THAT bullshit, JFree started arguing about subsidies which no one mentioned.
    JFree is a fucking lefty idiot, with all the honesty of turd or Tony: none.

  • Robert||

    So wait...because someone didn't initially include all the reasons for thinking something, they must be insincere when they add them later?

  • Sevo||

    Robert|12.9.18 @ 9:41AM|#
    "So wait...because someone didn't initially include all the reasons for thinking something, they must be insincere when they add them later?"

    No, because changing the subject cherry-picking are signs of a dimbulb. And defending it doesn't make you any smarter.

  • Agammamon||

    Except that government intervention did nothing of the sort.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Why doesn't Congress simply pass a law making salmonella illegal and get this whole contaminated food thing over with?

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Hold that thought and come with me over to this big chalkboard. We are going to brainstorm this one somethin' fierce.

  • Agammamon||

    'Chalkboard'?

    Wait, hold that thought while I run a request for quote through the chain to see if we can get a supplier to provide us with a networked digital whiteboard. It should only take 3-6 months for approval to send out the request.

  • Robert||

    Stupid, inefficient idea w a terrible enforcement problem. Instead, Congress should pass a law making salmonella good.

  • mtrueman||

    The incident recently in an Alabama mall showed us that firearms can't make us perfectly safe all the time. A heroic (but dark skinned) man was shot to death by police as he directed the innocent to safety while wielding a dangerous (but perfectly legal) firearm.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez||

    Exactly! The one time that firearms don't make us safer is when government agents with special training and arms show up. Perfect example!

  • mtrueman||

    Because government agents with firearms are so rare and exceptional. Their 'special training' means they are not trigger happy.

  • Agammamon||

    Apparently it doesn't mean that.

  • creech||

    On any given summer Sunday, I bet a whole lot more than 50 people are food poisoned in any one state from potato salad left sitting on the picnic table too long. So why don't we throw out $50 million worth of potatoes every Monday?
    How do they know the romaine lettuce "caused" the illness rather than one of the dozen or so other food items the person consumed recently?

  • Echospinner||

    One thing about the CDC. They tell you.

    Try it. This would be a start.

    https://tinyurl.com/y7tmu7vt

  • Echospinner||

    Just to add there is a very good reason. The CDC is very good in epidemiology and infectious disease.

    They cannot be effective in an outbreak without the larger community.

    This e.coli strain and a few others have been a problem for years. Tough bug.

    One of the few times government worked was this time.

  • Jasa Web Malang||

    I'm also sorry, I hope this problem can be dealt with as soon as possible so that it can make good for all parties rumah murah malang

  • Tony||

    Obviously the best solution is to let the market sort it out. If you die from tainted lettuce, the people around you might figure it out and refrain from buying that kind of lettuce... or whatever.

  • Sevo||

    It's a shame you haven't died already. The world's total intelligence would be higher if your mom had elected for an abortion.

  • Tony||

    Are you even potty trained?

  • Sevo||

    Please raise the world's intelligence; commit suicide.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    That's a pretty obtuse way of- oh it's Tony.

  • Hank Phillips||

    They could rename Sacramento, Schadenfreude...

  • Robert||

    "For other food producers—from makers of fresh pasta sauce to Greek yogurt—the law orders the FDA to require food manufacturers to have in place a written plan for preventing transmission of pathogens that could cause foodborne illness."


    Like Congress thought food makers don't have SOPs that say that already?

  • Robert||

    Any who don't could surely download one off the Internet.

  • Sevo||

    Robert|12.8.18 @ 8:59PM|#
    "Any who don't could surely download one off the Internet."

    OK, fucking lefty apologist.
    Fuck off.

  • Robert||

    My writing that something Congress did is stupid makes me a lefty apologist? Or did something else make me a lefty apologist, so I'm unworthy of writing anything here?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    If food safety laws can't protect us, we need to ban food. It's the only sensible option.

  • Doug Huffman||

    Good behavior cannot be legislated. Not violent crime and not food safety. Criminals poop on society and on food.

  • Pat001||

    Anyone can walk into a supermarket and buy as much romaine as they want, no questions asked. No ID or background check required. Close the supermarket loophole NOW!

  • macsnafu||

    Obvious points that *still* need to be made. First, government regulation doesn't necessarily guarantee safety and doesn't solve the problems, and can have unintended consequences. Second, government regulators are based upon coercion, and are mostly immune to economic incentives and feedback. They have little reason to care if their regulations dramatically increase food costs for little or no additional benefit. Even if they mean well, they really have no idea if they're under- or over-regulating.

    For the reasons above and more, private certification and other forms of private regulation should be utilized as much as possible to render government regulation useless and unnecessary.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Lettuce and Beef Recalls Show Food Safety Rules Can't Make Us Perfectly Safe All the Time

    "U.S. Murder Rate Shows Anti-Murder Laws Can't Make Us Perfectly Safe All the Time"

    Jesus, Reason has gotten stupid.

    Is anyone arguing that food safety rules, specifically FSMA, can make us perfectly safe all the time? No. Nobody is, as the article shows. So why the strawman?

    I'm at least as opposed to over-regulation as the next guy, but this article doesn't even begin to make a rational case against FSMA. If there is one, this article manages to completely miss it and probably leaves a reasonable reader thinking, "So, FSMA isn't so bad, I guess."

    This article is the equivalent of the old SNL Weekend Update gag "In other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!"

  • tlapp||

    Yes but in my own garden and the local farm stand many have eaten all sorts of produce and never gotten sick in spite of no FDA inspections. Go figure.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online