If there is one thing lawmakers hate, it is regulations. “Let the free market do its thing and let the chips fall where they may” is a common mantra oozing out of the halls of the Capitol. Heck, lawmakers hate regulations so much they will actively push to overturn regulations that make complete and rational sense when you step back for an iota of a second.
With that in mind, we turn to HB 144 – Food Freedom Act from Representative Marc Roberts (Republican – Santaquinn).
[pullquote]Don’t be fooled by the title, HB 144 poses a real threat to the health and safety to the citizens of Utah.[/pullquote]”Food Freedom Act?! How could anyone think this is a bad thing? Surely people should be able to eat?!” you are probably saying to yourself right now. Well, stop right there, because the reality is a bill was “Foodborne Illness Promotion Act” is not going to be as easy to sell to the public.
HB 144 would allow a food producer to sell directly to an individual food or food products to a residential customer without any interference from state or local government messing up the works with pesky things like food inspections. The end consumer of the food has to know that they are eating raw food, and the food producer still needs to meet safety protocol if they do happen to sell for commercial purposes. Finally, mercifully, this rule wouldn’t apply to meat, which would still have to go through inspections.
But yes, if HB 144 were to pass the state would knowingly allow uninspected food to enter the food chain…because…freedom.
Roberts would no doubt argue that if the end user is aware of the risk, it is their risk to take; that government regulation is terrible; and that it isn’t in the best interest of food producers to put out a bad product. He might also fairly argue that food born illnesses currently happen despite regulation.
But one wonders why Roberts is so willing to take the risk of making disease easier to spread. Though one would hope that a knowledgeable end user of uninspected raw food will be responsible and not cross-contaminate other foods, the 5,000 people who die and 325,000 people who end up in the hospital every year nationally from food poising suggests that people screw up enough when protections are in place.
E. coli doesn’t know the difference between a knowledgeable end user and a person who, somehow, gets a hold of raw food through any one of a thousand ways. However, we do know that creating opportunities for the disease to spread can create a costly and deadly public health problem.
There is no discernable reason as to why this law is needed other than some vague feeling that there is too much regulation on this big, blue ball. The reality, however, is that people will get sick and they will die if we knowingly and willingly allow people to receive uninspected food. HB 144 creates an unnecessary health risk that a first world economy shouldn’t allow out of a perverted understanding of a political philosophy.
To contact Representative Roberts, click here or call 801-210-0155 (Cell).
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