As one door (Cuban trade) opens, another (hostile Washington regulation) closes. [Jim Bovard]
- Why British pubs are in decline [new Institute of Economic Affairs report from Christopher Snowdon]
- After legal battle with chicken chain, Vermont man wins “Eat More Kale” trademark [AP, earlier here, etc.]
- “Why D.C. Breweries Say They’re Drowning In Red Tape” [Rebecca Sheir, WAMU] Pennsylvania: “Cops Seized Couple’s $160,000 Wine Collection – And Want to Destroy It All” [Baylen Linnekin]
- More on FDA calorie-labeling mandate for restaurants and food servers [Sarah Kliff, Vox (“way more aggressive than expected”); Steve Chapman, Jacob Sullum, Danny Vinik, New Republic on the lack of evidence in their favor; Jason Stverak, Providence Journal on the costs; Cass Sunstein via Althouse in favor; earlier here, etc.]
- Opponent seeks sanctions over attempt to turn “meritless snack food labeling action into the Second Peloponnesian War” [Daniel Fisher]
- “A Trademark Year in Wine and Beer: Our 2014 Holiday Buyer’s Guide to Disputed Beverages” [David Kluft, Foley Hoag]
- Roundup of reactions (including ours) to Boston professor’s fateful tussle with Chinese restaurant [National Post, earlier]
Another hidden gift inside the Affordable Care Act: mandatory calorie labeling for many restaurant menus. Walter Olson comments on the complications and potential unintended consequences of such a mandate.
My new Cato podcast: the new FDA calorie labeling rules apply to not-so-big chains (20 +) of grocery stores and amusement facilities as well as restaurants, and make it less likely that servers and local managers will manage to vary from rigidly standardized recipes, menu listings and portion sizes based on knowledge of their local customers, temporary availability of attractive ingredients, and so forth. That won’t matter much for food servers who already design their offerings in a lab, but spells trouble for those whose offerings are more localized or unpredictable (earlier). Coverage by Ed Morrissey of what the scheme would mean for a 21-unit pizza chain is linked here.
In January, David Boaz commented on the parallel vending machine calorie label mandate:
In my experience, vending machines shuffle their offerings fairly frequently. If the machine operators have to change the calorie information displayed every time they swap potato chips for corn chips, then $2,200 [per operator per year] seems like a conservative estimate of costs. But then, as Hillary Clinton said when it was suggested that her own health care plan would bankrupt small businesses, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”
More: Baylen Linnekin. And Julie Gunlock recalls her own days working in a supermarket deli. Goodbye, making up prepared salads in single-serving containers from whatever produce happened to be in overstock at the time. Hello, food waste!
The panel is packed with big names and many of them offer suggestions with a law or regulation angle, including Philip K. Howard (“Radically Simplify Law”), Derek Khanna (rethink patent and copyright law; related, Ramesh Ponnuru), Morris Kleiner (reform occupational licensure; related, Steven Teles), Arnold Kling (“Sidestep the FCC and the FDA”), Robert Litan (admit more high-skill immigrants and reform employment of teachers; similarly on immigration, Alex Nowrasteh), Adam Thierer (emphasize “permissionless innovation”), and Peter Van Doren (relax zoning so to ease movement of workers to high-wage cities).
Many libertarians have expressed interest in statutes, enacted in five states, which seek to give incurably ill patients access to “investigational” drugs which have passed the first stage in the FDA’s approval process but not reached final approval. Nice goal, but according to James Beck at Drug & Device Law:
…we don’t think these statutes are going to accomplish much, let alone achieve their purpose of making investigational drugs generally available to terminally ill patients having no other choices.
One obstacle is the supremacy of the FDA:
States can pass all the laws they want, but unless the FDA gives its okay to programs more expansive than its compassionate use (“expanded access”) program, nothing’s going to happen. It’s called “preemption.”
A second is liability. While the new crop of statutes are an improvement on earlier proposals which sought to conscript pharmaceutical companies’ participation, they still give drugmakers no strong protection from resulting lawsuits, and sometimes include language hinting at the reverse. Even though plaintiff’s lawyers would face their own challenges of proving causation and damages, there would still be unknowable legal downside with relatively scant upside, making for poor incentives to participate in the program by making investigational drugs available.
- Sugar, tea, fish and game, public houses: food freedom grievances helped fuel America’s revolution against Britain [Baylen Linnekin]
- Colorado, Oregon voters consider GMO labeling, which “likely will mislead more than inform.” [David Orentlicher, Health Law Prof and more] “Say No to GMO Labeling, Even If It Feels Terrible” [alt-weekly Portland Mercury; earlier on GMOs]
- “White House Boosts Fictional ‘Food Addiction’ Concept to School Kids” [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- D.C. Circuit: immigration law doesn’t block specialized Brazilian steakhouse chefs from coming to U.S. [Joe Palazzolo, WSJ Law Blog]
- “Why Is the USDA Buying Submachine Guns?” [Modern Farmer]
- Little evidence new FDA food labeling rules will improve health [Robert Scharff and Sherzod Abdukadirov/Regulation mag, more] Flaws of agency’s “added sugar” labeling proposal [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- California tries to dictate standards for raising animals in other states; do you think the Constitution might have something to say about that? [Linnekin]
- Our posts on the closure of California’s Westover Winery following punitive fines for letting customers volunteer continue to draw interesting comments, including one from a reader identifying himself as William Smyth, owner of the winery;
- FDA comes out with revised proposed FSMA rules, a preliminary look [AP] Agency only partially backs off restrictions on use of spent brewing grains as animal feed [Elizabeth Brown/Reason, WLF, earlier]
- “Cottage food” law success: “Texans Created Over A Thousand Local Businesses After Texas Eased Restrictions On Selling Food” [Nick Sibilla, IJ/Forbes]
- Artisanal salami maker eventually managed to persuade FDA that it should be permitted to ferment product at 72 degrees as the Italians do [WaPo] Craft sausage startup in Detroit “sort of operated under ‘do-things-until-you-get-caught” [Metro Times]
- Does drinking diet soda make you fat? [Daniel Engber, Slate]
- Kalona, Iowa maker of squeaky cheese curds cites mounting regulatory costs in decision to close (via Julie Gunlock) [Cedar Rapids Gazette]
- Bee colonies getting sick: indictment of modern humanity’s interaction with nature? [Timothy Taylor, Conversable Economist]
- Down comes the pediatrician’s wall of baby pictures, another HIPAA casualty [Anemona Hartocollis/NY Times, resulting letters to the editor, earlier, NPR with somewhat different slant]
- Had the Washington Post stayed on story of Maryland health exchange fiasco, it might have held power to account [my Free State Notes]
- FDA rules requiring that certain drugs be kept out of hands of anyone but patients may inadvertently establish monopoly for some off-patent compounds [Derek Lowe via Alex Tabarrok]
- Richard Epstein argues Hobby Lobby right result, wrong reasoning [new Cato Supreme Court Review, more]
- Defensive medicine: so much easier to go ahead and order the ultrasound [White Coat]
- Fate of melanoma-scanning device and the FDA [Alex Tabarrok via Elizabeth Nolan Brown] Can agency learn from European private certification? [more]
- Seredipitous offshoot of study on rats helped premature infants; but would this have been quite as likely to appear in HuffPo if framed as “what we owe lab-animal research” rather than “what we owe federal research”? [Sam Stein; related, first volunteer given new trial Ebola vaccine, and a hat tip to lab-animal research on that too [Wellcome, U.K.]
…cheese counters could soon be a lot less aromatic, with several popular cheeses falling victim to a more zealous U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Roquefort — France’s top-selling blue — is in the agency’s cross hairs along with raw-milk versions of Morbier, St. Nectaire and Tomme de Savoie. …
Of course, French creameries haven’t changed their recipes for any of these classic cheeses. But their wheels are flunking now because the FDA has drastically cut allowances for a typically harmless bacterium by a factor of 10.
The new rules have resulted in holds even on super-safe Parmigiano Reggiano, and the risk of losing a costly shipment of a perishable commodity is likely to be enough to drive many European producers out of the market for export to America entirely. Highly praised artisanal cheese makers in the United States are facing shutdown as well. [Michael Gebert, Chicago Reader] Earlier on the FDA and cheese regulation here and, from Cato, here (2010 predictions, before FSMA passed), here, here, etc.
They told us this administration was going to be run by wine and cheese faculty liberals. Now where are they when they could actually do us some good?
Related, note that the regulatory pressure is coming from both sides of the Atlantic: “Newsweek: French cheesemakers crippled by EU health measures” [Cheese Notes, with discussion of role of giant manufacturers whose processed cheese operations can comply with the rules] (& welcome The Week, Reason readers; cross-posted at Cato at Liberty)