We’ve been told, through the government shutdown, that we really must have the US Department of Food and Agriculture. For they run the FSIS, the Food Safety and Inspection Service which is all that stands between us and being poisoned by the lust for profits of the capitalist plutocrats. Or something.
Today we also learned that Tyson Foods has recalled some chicken nuggets over possible contamination with rubber. Given that the FSIS is not in operation at present, it still stumbling to open up along with the rest of the USDA, this shows that we do or do not need government inspection of our food?
Tyson Foods is recalling more than 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets because they may be contaminated with small pieces of rubber.
The U.S. Agriculture Department says there were consumer complaints about extraneous material in 5-pound packages of Tyson White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets. There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions. “A small number of consumers contacted the company to say they had found small pieces of soft, blue plastic in the nuggets, prompting the company to issue the recall,” Tyson said in a statement. Obviously enough this means we don’t need the USDA, doesn’t it? We’ve got a system for recalling defective products even when the FSIS is not operational. Thus we don’t need the FSIS, or the USDA, to be organising recalls over defective products.
As to what it is that is managing the system it’s brands, reputation. This is in fact how brands first arose in the food system. Food used to be horribly adulterated and then we moved to an industrial food production system. In the initial stages it wasn’t much better than the medieval peasantry it replaced. But people do like to have better than terrible food so some people specialised in producing it. Given that desire for better than terrible they made more sales, in fact they conquered the market, by performing for that desire.
The food in 1830s, 1840s, Britain was pretty bad. By the 1850s brands had arisen and by the 1860s the problem was essentially over. The first major legislation over food quality was in the 1870s. You know, after the market had already provided the solution.
For Tyson the brand name is worth very much more than 18 tonnes or so of chicken nuggets. So, whether the USDA, the FSIS, exists or not they’ll recall those dodgy ones in order to protect the brand. As we can see from the fact that they did recall them even while government was still, effectively, shut down.
Thus we don’t need the government part of the system here, do we? Because it all works just fine without it.