Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Requiring Information, Allowing Choice

An interesting question for Libertariana: Should accurate, consistent food labelling be required? This argument for consistent labelling, in the EU, makes some sense. Many people have allergies, some of them deadly. My nephew has an extreme nuts (and other stuff) allergy. Angus himself has some food issues. (I have some issues, including my "see food" diet, but labelling won't help that much). Should contents be listed clearly and accurately, and should the state prosecute deviations? One big problem, as described in the article, is nuts.

Or should we (quoting Tony McCaullife, responding to the demands from General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz
that he surrender Bastogne, on December , 1945) just say:


(Nod to Warden, who knows things)


Tom said...

Well, of course, Mungowitz! Anything that makes sense, or is helpful, should be REQUIIIIRED. Because people don't care for sense; product makers aren't motivated to be helpful to their customers unless it is by the force of government.

Besides that, you know how it goes: if even ½% (or even one person) is helped by some regulation, it is worth any price, ANY price, imposed on the rest of society.

Okay -- sarcasm off (if only for a little while). Note that it is quite a different thing to say that ingredient lists and other product information must be accurate, where provided. Inaccurate info (lies) constitue fraud.

The folks with peanut allegys, etc., haven't even tried peaceful ways to deal with their problem. Persuasion and public pressure is one approach. Independent product tests and reviews are another. I'm sure there are many more.

But this issue is yet another illustration of How Government Works. "There is this societal problem, see? So, to solve it... let's think... Why not try VIOLENCE first!"

Marina Martin said...

Perhaps I'm being idealistic (an adjective rarely ascribed to me), but don't companies have an incentive to provide accurate ingredient information? One four-year-old dying of a peanut allergy is a pretty bad PR nightmare, and I don't see what they'd have to gain from keeping the information secret. (I understand why *recipes* are secret, but not lists of ingredients. I thought you could figure out the ingredient list with a bit of science equipment anyway.)