- 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]
Eight of the twelve most affluent counties in the United States are in the Washington, D.C. area, and high among them stands Howard County, Maryland (Columbia/Ellicott City), where the celebrations tomorrow will be a bit constrained:
Some find it a damper on the festivities to bring Howard County’s Fourth of July fireworks into compliance with County Executive Ken Ulman’s December 2012 edict sharply restricting the sale of sweet beverages and high-calorie snack food at county-sponsored events. Under the regulations, which are “the first and only of their kind in the state,” at least “50 percent of packaged food offered at county events must contain 200 calories or less per portion”; prepared food, such as funnel cakes and soft-serve ice cream, is not covered. [Baltimore Sun via Quinton Report] The rules exempt the county’s “Wine in the Woods” event, held each May.
Whether or not the policy mirrors the preferences of voters in Howard County (and who knows, it might), it serves the function of affluence signaling in the conspicuously prosperous county. One reason families pay a premium to move to a county like Howard is the implicit promise that their kids will grow up with plenty of worldly, educated, skinny role models and that the government is not going to be run in line with the wishes of poorer or lower-status residents. Message sent!
[adapted from my Free State Notes blog]
In a 4-2 decision, New York’s highest court agreed with two lower courts that New York City’s attempted ban on sugary drink portions over 16 ounces exceeded the powers of the city’s Department of Health. [Bloomberg News coverage]
That’s exactly in line with what I wrote at earlier stages of the case. At the time, some national commentators did not seem to have checked out the actual reasoning of Judge Milton Tingling’s decision, which rested squarely on a distinctive 1987 New York precedent called Boreali v. Axelrod which had struck down the state health department’s attempt to regulate smoking in public places as beyond its properly delegated authority. The soda case was (as they say) on all fours with Boreali, and although the Court of Appeals could have overturned Boreali, as some academics urged, or found grounds to dodge its effect, as the two dissenters did, the court instead chose to apply the precedent as it stood. That confirms that the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health, in its eagerness to assert powers not rightly its own, had casually broken the law.
One of the two dissenters was Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the latest of many indications that he is inclined to pull the Court of Appeals away from many of the positions and habits that have given it a centrist reputation among state courts.
“Even pictures of food [at schools] have to have the federal government’s stamp of approval.” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
P.S. Speaking of marketing and paternalism, here’s Ann Althouse on the latest horrible Mark Bittman column.
- California Medical Association, which seems unruffled by growth of regulatory state when docs are not its targets, backs bill to require warning labels on soda [Governing, AP, Sacramento Bee, Monterey Herald]
- “The Farm Bill Came Surprisingly Close to Fixing Some Protectionist Regulations” [K. William Watson, Cato]
- “New York Alcohol Bill Benefits Big Business at Consumers’ Expense” [Michelle Minton, CEI; earlier; my upcoming Feb. 27 Bastiat Society panel in Charlotte on alcohol regs]
- Lawmakers to OSHA: hands off small farms [Insurance Journal, US News]
- States cheat the system through “heat and eat” food stamp scam [USA Today editorial]
- Why so few chickens are raised in Montana [Baylen Linnekin]
- Comic-book interpretation of Quebec’s great maple syrup heist, including background of legally enforced cartelization [Modern Farmer]
- Seen on “farm tourism” outing: “The USDA requires that only the farmer feed us” [Ira Stoll]
- Next frontier of public-health disapproval: grilled, smoked, and fried food? [Brian Palmer, Slate]
Meanwhile, even former enthusiasts are beginning to give up on the “food desert” theory — opening a supermarket nearby does little to change unhealthy diet habits. So guess what’s next? Yep, calls for more and stronger intervention [Ann Althouse].
Stephanie Francis Ward at the ABA Journal covers the panel discussion I participated in yesterday on local paternalism at the ABA Midyear in Chicago. The other panelists were Prof. Sarah Conly of Bowdoin College, author of Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, and Chicago Alderman George Cardenas, sponsor of a proposal to tax soft drink sales in the city. It was hosted by the ABA’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division and moderated by Hawaii land use lawyer Robert Thomas, who has much more at his Inverse Condemnation blog.
- Gee, thanks, NIH: “Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda to Show the ‘Evils’ of Private Alcohol Sales” [Michelle Minton, CEI]
- “So this summer, under the supervision of officials from U.S. Customs, all three thousand two hundred and ninety-seven pounds of Mimolette were tossed into dumpsters and doused in bleach.” [The New Yorker, Dec. 9, subscription; S.F. Chronicle, earlier on French cheese controversy here, here, etc.]
- FDA forced to back off FSMA regs, NYC soda ban loses twice in court, and other highlights of the year in food freedom [Baylen Linnekin] “Americans Think They Should Be Allowed to Buy Foods with Trans Fats and Caffeinated Energy Drinks” [Emily Ekins on new Reason-RUPE poll] “The Dangers of a Soda Tax” [Trevor Burrus] Linnekin podcast on FDA’s trans-fat ban [Cato, Caleb Brown interview]
- “Annals of Closing Statements in Exploding Bottle Cases” [Kyle Graham]
- “Minnesota says raw milk makes more people sick than recognized” [L.A. Times]
- It’s for the children: proposals for regulating in-store food marketing [Jennifer Pomeranz via Public Citizen]
- Federal sugar program devastated domestic candy manufacturing, as WaPo (sometimes) recognizes [Chris Edwards]
- “The FDA’s Ill-Conceived Proposal to Ban Trans Fats” [Baylen Linnekin] Margarine and other butterfat substitutes help in keeping a meal kosher, but FDA appears indifferent to individual preference [Ira Stoll] Can the baker fudge the formula for Baltimore’s Berger cookies? [Baltimore Sun, WTOP/Capital] Organized grocery lobby appears to be going quietly, perhaps a misguided strategy since this sets a precedent for yanking familiar ingredients off Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list, and many activists would like to move on to things like sugar next [Bloomberg Business Week, Doug Mataconis/Outside the Beltway, Michelle Minton/CEI, Bainbridge] Switch to palm oil might accelerate deforestation [Scientific American]
- FDA’s regs implementing Food Safety Modernization Act could tank small farmers and other food operations, commenters write in by thousands [Baylen Linnekin, Jim Slama, HuffPo]
- Proposed Austin curbs on fast food restaurants might ensnare its beloved food trucks [Linnekin]
- Any day now FDA could issue long-awaited, highly burdensome new menu calorie labeling regs [Hinkle] Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (Ind.-ME) introduce bill to excuse grocers and convenience stories from rules and simplify compliance for pizzerias [Andrew Ramonas/BLT]
- “Panel weighs in on soda ban at law school” [NYU News covers my recent panel discussion there with Jacob Sullum and Prof. Roderick Hills, pic courtesy @vincentchauvet]
- “Organic Farmers Bash FDA Restrictions On Manure Use” [NPR via Ira Stoll]
- Nick Farr looks at NYT retrospective on the Stella Liebeck (McDonald’s) hot coffee case [Abnormal Use]
- “Sugar is the most destructive force in the universe” according to expert witness who meets with less than favorable reception in corn syrup case [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- Even if some of its speedcams were illegal, Montgomery County says it doesn’t plan to issue refunds “because drivers admit guilt when they mail in their signed tickets and pay the fines” [WUSA, auto-plays video]
- Per state’s highest court, “repose statute does not bar the plaintiffs’ wrongful death action because it refers to suits for ‘injury,’ as opposed to ‘death.'” [Alex Stein, Bill of Health] Introduce comparative negligence while also reforming old doctrines like joint/several liability? [Don Gifford and Christopher Robinette via TortsProf]
- Double-blind photo lineups: “Baltimore Police Take Steps to Avoid Wrongful Convictions” [John Ross, Reason]
- State shuts down day care center. An overreaction? [Free-Range Kids]
- Reporter Audrey Hudson worries investigative sources were compromised after her notes were seized in armed Coast Guard raid on husband [Maryland Morning]
- Baltimore detective convicted of shooting himself to get workers’ comp benefits [WBAL]
- Santoni’s grocery, southeast Baltimore institution since 1930s, cites city’s beverage bottle tax as reason for closure [Baltimore Sun, auto-plays video]
- New Maryland laws effective last month include some dubious ideas passed unanimously [Maryland Legislative Watch]