John Stossel has two questions for you:
1.) What's the point of having a big-ass mustache if you can't twirl it?
Food BunkActually, this raises a third question. Driving off the edge of a cliff is scary, but generally easy to avoid (unless you're in Thelma & Louise or a Warner Brothers cartoon, and even then it's manageable, since if it's the former, you meant to do that, so shut up, and if it's the latter, then you're safe as long as you don't look down), but what do we do when dangerous geographical features start driving toward us? I realize the mountain went to Mohammed (only because it had been like three months and Mohammed still hadn't returned the Mountain's hedge trimmers), and I have it on reliable authority that the hills are alive (and have fairly keen eyesight), which is fine, but I am not prepared to be chased around town by a cliff. Unless it's Cliff Richard, because I'm pretty sure I could snap him in half like a stale breadstick.
With America's "fiscal cliff" approaching...
...pundits wring their hands over the supposed catastrophe that government spending cuts will bring. A scare newsletter called "Food Poisoning Bulletin" warns that if government reduces food inspections, "food will be less safe ... (because) marginal companies ... (will) cut corners."This makes no sense, because if they're cutting corners, why would these marginal companies add anything to their food? Salmonella doesn't grow on trees, you know. Okay, it grows on chickens, but still...Botulism Before Bolshevism. Amirite?
We're going to die!The free market solution is for each American to grow out a luxurious nose hair mustache, allowing the elongated cilia -- so effective at filtering dust and pollen, and other particulate matter -- to strain chemicals, bacteria, and viruses from their food. Admittedly, women, girls, prepubescent males -- pretty much anyone except those old guys who sit on folding chairs in the driveway playing dominoes on upended trash cans -- might need help with cultivation. Fortunately, there's John Stossel's Nose Hair 'Stache Starter Kit®, which includes a Minoxidil inhaler, a boar-bristle styling wand, and a tub of mustache wax made from the finest jojoba oil and premium beeswax, and available in the following scents: Carnuba, Soup, Lemon Pledge, and Hippie Candle Shop.
Most people believe that without government meat inspection, food would be filthy.But most people fail to reckon with the can-do spirit of entrepreneurs like Food Lion, who refuse to settle for filthy food, and bleach their pork when it becomes unsanitary.
We read "The Jungle," Upton Sinclair's depiction of the meatpacking business, and assume that the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service are all that stand between us and E. coli. Meatpacking conditions were disgusting. Government intervened. Now, we're safe! A happy ending to a story of callous greed.Yep! Case closed. So why does your column go on for another 500 words?
The scheming lawyers behind the "Food Poisoning Bulletin" argue that without regulation companies will "cut corners." After all, they say, sanitation costs money, so lack of regulation "creates a competitive disadvantage for companies that want to produce quality products."Remember when "scheming lawyers" raked in big bucks working for mafia bosses, or heartless insurance companies, or big industries that were secretly dumping hexavalent chromium into the water table? Now they're scheming to raise awareness about public health issues, and looking out for the little guy, and working pro bono, and it looks like "scheming" has gone the way of "gay" -- yet another word that John Stossel can't use anymore without people quoting The Princess Bride at him.
But that's bunk. It's not government that keeps E. coli to a minimum. It's competition. ...Fear of getting a bad reputation makes food producers even more careful than government requires.Which is why we no longer have outbreaks of salmonella or e coli. Because no corporation wants to take the chance of killing a bunch of people and then getting teased about it on Facebook.
Since the Eisenhower administration, our stodgy government has paid an army of union inspectors to eyeball chickens in every single processing plant. But bacteria are invisible!
Fortunately, food producers run much more sophisticated tests on their own. One employs 2,000 more safety inspectors than government requires: "To kill pathogens, beef carcasses are treated with rinses and a 185-degree steam vacuum," an executive told me. She also asked that I not reveal the name of her company -- it fears retaliation from regulators.Why would regulators retaliate? Well, while some FDA bureaucrats grudgingly applaud the innovation and ingenuity represented by using a Rug Doctor on a beef carcass, others feel that there simply isn't much to be gained by giving a dead cow a cream rinse.
None of that is required by government. Government regulation may help a little, but we are safe mostly because of competitive markets. Competition protects us better than politicians.We should return to the days before the Pure Food and Drug Act, when consumers were free to choose between various but equally reputable medicine shows. Which patent nostrum would better sooth your catarrh -- the laudanum in a suspension of cane syrup, or the admixture of turpentine and bear gall juice? If only the government trusted you to make that decision.
But people don't trust companies. So it is easy to scare people about food. And the news media know that finding "problems" makes reporters look like crusading journalists. Earlier this year, my old employer, ABC News, "alerted" the public to a new threat, ground beef made with "pink slime."
It sounds awful! ABC's reporting frightened most school systems so much that they stopped using that form of meat. The food company lost 80 percent of its business.
But the scare is bunk. What ABC calls "pink slime" is just as appetizing as other food.
"Pink slime," for those who sensibly averted their eyes from this subject, "is a processed beef product that was originally used only in pet food and cooking oil and was not approved for human consumption...It is produced by processing low-grade beef trimmings and other meat by-products such as cartilage, connective tissue and sinew...The recovered beef material is then processed, heated, and treated with gaseous ammonia...The product is finely ground, compressed into pellets or blocks, flash frozen and then shipped for use as an additive."
"Appetizing" is not a word I would use in this case; still, I guess it's better than that time Stossel spent an entire column trying to convince us to grab a pair of tin snips and cut the seatbelts out of our cars.
"Bunk is the polite word," Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center says. "ABC went on a crusade. Three nights in a row back in March, they pounded on this."Bacteria respect your branding; just not as much as your gaseous ammonia. (Can't you just imagine Dan stamping his feet when he said this? "It's not pink slime, it's not! It's ground beef that resembles a turd made from bubble gum.")
Well, why shouldn't they, if there's something called "pink slime" in beef?
"Because it's not pink slime. It's ground beef."
Scientifically illiterate, business-hating media will always do scare stories. Don't believe them.Believe media gadflies funded by Exxon Mobil. And tonight, celebrate your independence from Consumer Reports by enjoying a delicious, char-broiled, soft-serve steak.