What an interesting but alarming article in the Think Progress Economy newsletter. A congresswomen who would like to “do away” with food safety legislation! Legislation has not been designed to make it too expensive to stay in business. What it has been designed to do is manage what is after all credible risk.
It’s not the legislation that makes it too expensive. Sure without it we could probably knock a few pence of our food commodities for a while until that next outbreak. But then lets see what might happen?
- A number of consumers become ill or even die (although granted this is rarer)
- The costs of medical intervention and the costs of death mount up.
- The costs of the investigation mount up.
- The reputation of the offender is put on the line
- The plethora of press and social media get hold of it.
- The reputation of the offender hits rock bottom.
- Sales fall until the offending company folds.
- A workforce is made redundant. The costs of social welfare mounts.
- The public develop a fear (excessively perhaps and perpetuated by the media).
- Consultation costs soar as governments try to reproduce and re-implement appropriate legislation.
- Well aren’t we more or less back to square one now but just a bit poorer??
What’s the old lesson here – yes – think before you speak. Is it a lesson politicians are willing to learn? Hmmm
And so we need legislation because contrary to her view, industry is just not that good at self policing. But, to visit the other side briefly, yes legislation must be regularly and thoroughly reviewed. Why do we still have best before dates on dried pasta or bottles of sparkling drink for goodness sake? And we may just be beginning to go so mad on allergen legislation that the risk is not in proportion to costs to industry.
However – yes please – I still want to know that I’m not eating unfit meat or a meal from a caterer who thinks it OK to visit the toilet for a sit down, and then to carry on with my sandwich, with a hand-wash sink that hasn’t seen a drop of water for days……