Eggs: An English Lesson
The recent egg recalls have raised the issue of whether the FDA should require farmers to vaccinate their hens against salmonella, something it has so far declined to do. Thus the NYT writes:
Faced with a crisis more than a decade ago in which thousands of people were sickened from salmonella in infected eggs, farmers in Britain began vaccinating their hens against the bacteria. That simple but decisive step virtually wiped out the health threat.The obvious implication is that the U.S. ought to imitate a wise British decision and require vaccination. Further down in the article, however, we discover that:
But when American regulators created new egg safety rules that went into effect last month, they declared that there was not enough evidence to conclude that vaccinating hens against salmonella would prevent people from getting sick. The Food and Drug Administration decided not to mandate vaccination of hens — a precaution that would cost less than a penny per a dozen eggs.
There are no laws mandating vaccination in Britain. But it is required, along with other safety measures, if farmers want to place an industry-sponsored red lion stamp on their eggs, which shows they have met basic standards. The country’s major supermarkets buy only eggs with the lion seal, so vaccination is practiced by 90 percent of egg producers, ...Or in other words, Britain's success in drastically reducing the number of salmonella case is due not to regulation but to voluntary private action driven by market pressure.