Wednesday, August 3, 2011

About that FDA-sponsored SWAT team at Rawesome Foods

Stuff like this makes me think about becoming a weirdo libertarian:
A multi-agency SWAT-style armed raid was conducted this morning by helmet-wearing, gun-carrying enforcement agents from the LA County Sheriff's Office, the FDA, the Dept. of Agriculture and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).

Rawesome Foods, a private buying club offering wholesome, natural raw milk and raw cheese products (among other wholesome foods) is founded by James Stewart, a pioneer in bringing wholesome raw foods directly to consumers through a buying club. James was followed from his private residence by law enforcement, and when he entered his store, the raid was launched.

Law enforcement then proceeded to destroy the inventory of the story by pouring the milk down the drain and / or confiscating raw cheese and fresh produce for destruction.
Understand: food safety regulations exist for a reason. Nobody's very happy when grandmas start dying of E coli because they ate bad spinach. At the same time, Rawesome Foods and its customers have made a deliberate—possibly even informed—decision not to abide by standard food practices, seeing possible benefits they think outweigh the risk.

Maybe there's a way to balance both the concerns and desires, in a way that protects public safety while giving producers and consumers the choice to experiment.

Here's my proposal: let raw food producers semi-opt out of FDA regulations—but require they plaster all their products with huge stickers and labels with a warning: "This product has not been inspected by the FDA and may not meet minimum food safety requirements." What's more, the FDA would retain the right to take away the opt-out status for five years if a producer ended up being the source of a bacterial outbreak of some sort. I'm guessing that provision would be used rarely.

What does my proposal do? Well, it lets producers and consumers make free, but informed, choices. (The cost barriers to entering the market would probably come down for new entrants, as well.) Major producers would probably opt to stay within the FDA system rather than afix those large labels to their products. But the FDA would be relieved of some of its more piddling inspection and enforcement duties. Everybody wins.

And we might not be treated to the spectacle of a SWAT team raiding a dairy farm.


MonkeyBrad said...


(indicates complete agreement)

Rick said...


More here.

Martha Montelongo said...

"Stuff like this makes me think about becoming a weirdo libertarian:"

Joel, please do! That would mean you got it! Come home!

emawkc said...

I saw that item last week. I was glad to see the government finally cracking down on people who milk cows. Luckily, Goldman Sachs won't have to worry about those particular illegal cow milkers now.