I have a different take from Bitter over the food policeÂ story. I’m generally pretty understanding of the nanny state taken way too far, especially when it comes to small businesses having to comply. But when you’re in the dairy business, and your complaint is a pasteurizer is really expensive, and you think you shouldn’t have to buy one, my sympathy drops off considerably.
To me this isn’t that different than the people who like raw milk, and the controversy surrounding its distribution. Many libertarians believe this is an example of government overreach. I agree it’s an example of federal overreach. If farmer John is quietly selling the unpasteurized teat squeezings from Bessy the Cow out the back of the barn to some local raw milkers, I’m not sure why the USDA or FDA needs to poke their noses in; it’s a job for state and local health authorities. But in the case of this “artisan” ice cream maker, we’re dealing with state public health regulators.
And this is actual public health, not the fake public health that gets authorities involved in gun control and health insurance. Pasteurization is meant to stop communicable diseases, like typhoid and listeria. There’s a reason pretty much everyone knows who Louis Pasteur is, because pasteurization was one of the great public health achievements of modern times. I think people who want to abandon that principle are, to put it mildly, nuts.
That’s said, there has to be some sphere of freedom for people selling food. I don’t want to see public health authorities cracking down on bake sales, flea markets, church pot lucks, and the like. Much like how home brewing is regulated, there ought to be a certain scale that needs to be reached before the man takes notice. Because these measures a bit like vaccination, in that you can have a small group of people free ride on the immunity of others, a small scale operation isn’t likely to have much of an impact on public health. So if you’re making a product and selling small quantities at your stand at a farmers’ market, or in your store, great. When you’re selling your product at Whole Foods, it’s time to accept you’re in the big time and buy a friggin pasteurizer.