This Blog Has Moved!

My blog has moved. Check out my new blog at

Your Ad Here

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Tomato Salmonella Recall

There recently was a nationwide recall of tomatoes, due to salmonella contamination. The contamination could not be traced back to a specific source, so pretty much all tomatoes need to be recalled. With salmonella, if you mix contaminated food with non-contaminated food, then everything is now spoiled.

The actual cause will probably not be discovered. A very large quantity of tomatoes were recalled/destroyed. Pretty much everyone involved has insurance. Nobody will suffer any negative consequences for their negligence. The State absolves everyone of negative consequences for their misconduct.

The cost of this bailout isn't free. Food insurance premiums will be raised and people will pay higher prices for food. As usual, the State passes the cost of the bailout to the average person. It's impossible to determine who is responsible, so soundly managed businesses will see the same insurance premium increase as poorly managed businesses. There is no incentive to take precaution against food contamination, so why bother?

In a truly free market, a large-scale salmonella contamination is impossible. The State subsidizes transportation costs. This encourages few large shipments instead of many small shipments. In a free market, there would be many small shipments of tomatoes. In a free market, there would be many small tomato farmers, instead of a few large corporate farms. The contamination would be contained to just a few shipments. It would be possible to determine who was responsible for the contamination, so they could be fined/sued or improve their process. Even if it were impossible to figure out who was responsible, the insurance and food inspection businesses would have an incentive to improve their process for future incidents.

The nationwide tomato recall is one more example of the State using sovereign immunity to protect people from the negative consequence of their negligence.

1 comment:

eagledove9 said...

I was shocked by how ridiculous this tomato situation is. I work in a grocery store and we can't get any of the pre-sliced, packaged tomatoes that we use to make our hoagies. At first I thought it should be easy to get tomatoes from someplace other than the contaminated area.

If the tomatoes are sliced or processed in any way, instead of just being whole, they have to go to a factory someplace, and those factories are stuck wherever they are and can't be moved. So you could get tomatoes from someplace else, but they'd still have to get shipped to the factories for processing. (I'm still just trying to understand why it has been so difficult for them to solve this problem.) Also, everything at the factory would be contaminated with salmonella, all the slicers and packaging equipment, if only a few bad ones went through.

Few large corporate farms instead of lots of small ones - that does explain a lot of it.

This Blog Has Moved!

My blog has moved. Check out my new blog at