Two Approaches to Salmonella-Free Battery Eggs

Odd, unsatisfying, and lengthy New York Times Freakonomics article by James McWilliams covering battery egg safety. The piece doesn’t devote a single sentence to the cruelty of battery cages, and is concerned purely with what it would take to reduce salmonella rates.

Still, the egg industry is sure to hate the piece, particularly this idea:

What would happen, for example, if a single USDA regulator were assigned to a single factory farm and, in addition to a handsome salary, was rewarded with a $100,000 bonus every year the farm went salmonella-free?

But why should it fall onto taxpayers’ shoulders to have a well-paid highly-trained government official helping egg farms do the right thing? I’m sorry, but I don’t want my tax dollars spent on six-figure bonuses to clean up the egg industry.

Here’s a better idea: make battery egg farms responsible for egg safety, and hold them to high standards. Test 100 eggs a month and if salmonella rates surpass a certain threshold, forbid the sale of all the facility’s eggs. Simple, draconian, and completely effective.

The people who run battery egg operations are not dummies, and they don’t need a government inspector doing their job for them. They’d be remarkably effective at achieving high food safety standards—if they understood that their ability to sell eggs depended on doing whatever it takes to keep these eggs uncontaminated by salmonella. (Via Starkman.) Link.