California has just banned trans-fats from being used in restaurants:
At the same time, the FDA has discovered the source of an outbreak of salmonella that has hospitalised more than a thousand people and killed two. The agency advised consumers to avoid raw jalepeños:
In my mind, the FDA has behaved sensibly with regard to the jalepeños. Even the most Randroid libertarian would be hard pushed to argue for food hygiene to be completely regulated by market pressure. Of course, consumers are going to choose to eat in restaurants that look clean, so market pressure does enforce standards of hygiene. At the same time, finding the source of a bacterial infection is not something that the typical shopper or diner can do, so government agencies and regulations have a clear role.
However, I don’t agree with a ban on trans-fats. Whether a food is infected with salmonella or not is not something that can be discerned easily. When you go into a restaurant, you hope that you are going to eat food is free from germs. If it is not, then this is not something that you do knowingly. You cannot make an informed decision. That is why government inspectors are needed. When you go into a restaurant, it is possible to know whether a food has been made with trans-fats or not. It is possible to make a decision. Therefore the ban seems unnecessary. Clear labelling would make more sense in this case.