Food safety regulation: A tale of big business, small business, big government, and jobs 

The Obama administration's food-safety police are crushing small business and killing jobs in Arlington, my colleague Conn Carroll writes today. Carroll tells of a catering company that has been informed it is violating the law by letting its customers, such as nursing homes, actually serve the food. The crackdown by teh Food Safety Inspection Service comes after the FSIS found zero food-safety violations among 54 caterers it secretly investigated.

Carroll has this important conclusion:

Small businesses in particular are hit harder by invasive regulations than larger firms are. They simply do not have the resources to navigate the federal regulatory maze that big businesses do. But small businesses still manage to employ roughly half of all Americans and account for almost 60 percent of job creation.

I would go further. Big Business understands this dynamic, which is part of the reason Big Business often supports stricter regulation.

The regulation in question -- mandatory meat inspection -- was the product of cooperation between Teddy Roosevelt (wrongly praised as a scourge of Big Business) and the biggest meat packers. During the debate on the measure, the American Meat Institute's top lobbyist testified: “We are now and always have been in favor of the extension of the inspection, also to the adoption of the sanitary regulations that will ensure the very best possible conditions.”

During the recent debates over the Food Safety Enhancement Act, the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Produce Marketers Association both supported the strict new regulatory powers, while smaller farmers and food producers opposed it. (The PMA turned against the bill after senators inserted an exemption for small farms.)

This, of course, is not the story your history teachers and news pages tell you. They tell you that deregulation is a gift to Big Business and regulation protects the little guys. Ask the little guys -- Good Food catering in Arlington -- and they'll tell you what they think. 

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Timothy P. Carney

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