Is Food Over-Regulated?

, Joe Daly, Leave a comment

Is our food industry over-regulated? According to Walter Olson a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, the government should be conducting itself with a simple motto “Protect individual rights, curb force and fraud, and butt out.”

Olson spoke on a panel at the Heritage Foundation on “The Food Police: From Menu Labeling to Soda Bans.” He is the author of Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America (Encounter Books).

Childhood obesity has been the rationale offered for government intervention in food labeling and food laws in general. According to Nita Ghei, Ph.D Policy Research Editor, Mercatus Center, “The fact that childhood obesity is growing, that childhood diabetes is growing, is troubling and tragic. Ironically this is also a sign of success. This says the United States is incredibly wealthy, and that redistribution programs are successful.” Prior to coming to Mercatus, Ghei was at the Cato Institute.

However, childhood obesity is a marker for many other illnesses later in life and prevention can save countless dollars and cents, Ghei avers. According to Ghei, the government’s intervention does nothing to curb childhood obesity while adding countless laws and regulations. “While a decrease in childhood obesity and obesity in adults is desirable, government intervention is not really likely to be successful” said Ghei. In other words, the vast number of regulations placed on food service providers is not going to help curb childhood obesity, but simply cost the taxpayer as well as the small business owner more money for ineffective programs.

What happens next? Government regulation seems to be on the rise. For Walter Olson, “the fact is that Obamacare has a slush fund, which is going to be throwing off two million dollars often insulated from the appropriations process in Congress, in order to do health interventions including propaganda and much else.” This increase in government regulation will throttle small businesses with unnecessary hurdles and prevent small business from growing. Baylen Linnekin explains how these complications can lead to impossible situations: “Domino’s did a study… and found that there are 34 million different menu choices at Domino’s.” Linnekin is an adjunct professor at American University.

If menu labeling becomes a national law, all pizza places will have to provide a calorie count for every single combination of pizza, something a large corporation such as Domino’s would struggle to do,  much less a local pizza place.


A student at Catholic University, Joe Daly is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Academia and its sister organization— Accuracy in Media.

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