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Food Safety Or Freedom? Government’s Zero-Risk Policy On Food Safety Leaves No Room For Compromise

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, November 22, 2010

We have paid a lot of attention to food safety over the years — looking at a variety of topics:

Botulism & Carrot Juice

Buyer-Led Food Safety Initiative

FDA Import Alert on Honduran Cantaloupes

Food Safety Leadership Council

Irradiation

NRA Food Safety Round-Up

The Great Pistachio Recall

Salmonella Saintpaul

Spinach Crisis

Sprouts

Traceability

But all of these topics have been approached in the context of an unwitting consumer who, it is presumed, goes to the store expecting safe food.

This position has always been a bit problematic. After all, consumers drive in cars even though they know they could have an accident; they fly in planes although they know planes can crash; they go on boats though they might sink, etc. To select out food as the one and only area in life where, somehow, consumers expect perfect safety is most questionable. Still, this has provided a framework for thinking about food safety.

As we discussed here, the industry associations are turning against the Food Safety Bill in the Senate because it has been amended in a non-scientific way.

There is another reason to oppose it — an issue we raised in our piece in The New Atlantis, titled How to Improve Food Safety: Aggrandizing the FDA Only Distracts from Real Solutions. That simply piling power and money into the FDA is not an attractive alternative.

Watch the video below. It is about a raw foods “club” in which everyone who becomes a member has to sign a statement acknowledging they want raw foods and accept the risks. The club, Rawsome Foods in Venice, California, was raided, as was one of its suppliers, Healthy Family Farms. Most of the issues involve raw milk and raw milk cheeses, but the question is why the government is interfering with consenting adults who have decided what they would like to eat.

The intrusive nature of this kind of government is to some extent what the public was rebelling against in the last election.

Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post columnist caught the flavor of the age by writing about the young man who cautioned the TSA security officer not to “Touch my junk” and comparing it to an older cry for freedom:

John Tyner, cleverly armed with an iPhone to give YouTube immortality to the encounter, took exception to the TSA guard about to give him the benefit of Homeland Security’s newest brainstorm — the upgraded, full-palm, up the groin, all-body pat-down. In a stroke, the young man ascended to myth, or at least the next edition of Bartlett’s, warning the agent not to "touch my junk."

Not quite the 18th-century elegance of "Don’t Tread on Me," but the age of Twitter has a different cadence from the age of the musket. What the modern battle cry lacks in archaic charm, it makes up for in full-body syllabic punch.

Don’t touch my junk is the anthem of the modern man, the Tea Party patriot, the late-life libertarian, the midterm election voter.

Food may well be a central battleground in the fight for liberty. Watch the video here:

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