The salmonella outbreak that has affected a small percentage of the nation’s egg supply once again has painted American farmers as a bunch of bad eggs.
The public should rightly shun contaminated eggs. But should an outbreak of salmonella from one Iowa county necessitate even more government power over agriculture?
The Food and Drug Administration claims that it lacks sufficient authority and resources to inspect high-risk facilities, trace outbreaks, and issue mandatory recalls. They are arguing for passage of Senate Bill 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.
However, Washington already possesses enormous oversight, divided among some 15 agencies, including the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Is the problem really a lack of resources? Or is it more that there are piles and piles of resources, so dense, that the agencies have become inert?
I would argue that a free market led by consumer choice does more for food safety than greater government regulation.
Have you met a mother of three who finds out-of-date eggs in her refrigerator, much less in a grocery store? American consumers vehemently reject foods that fail to meet their standards; and mothers have long memories. The grocery retailers and food producers who wish to remain in business will respond with voluntary food safety controls.
What happened with the recent salmonella outbreak is a travesty because it undermines consumer faith in agriculture; but one bad egg should not spoil the entire refrigerator. We need to let the consumer and free market do what they do best - allow food producers who are willing to go the extra mile to rise above the rest.
We do not need more government oversight for a couple of bad eggs.