Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hammer and nails. Cheese and Beer. Regulatory over-reach or Public Safety?

Recently in a speech at West Point President Obama used this phrase in referencing Iraq/US foreign policy:
"Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail." 
It is a variation of the original version by Abraham Maslow:
"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."
 And this from Abraham Kaplan who formally classified the phrase as "The Law of the Instrument":
 "Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding."
Now that is out of the way, what does it have to do with this posting?

In the last couple of weeks I have read the following articles:

1.  Has The FDA Brought On A Cheese Apocalypse? Probably Not (NPR: The Salt).  The FDA proposed a rule to regulate the ageing of high quality cheese on wood boards, a process that has been used for 100's of years, because of a fear of listeria.  

"As for the cheese aging boards, "There's no question there's a risk," Acheson says, but the question is, how much. "I'm not aware of any evidence that the wooden boards on which cheese is aged led to listeria outbreaks," he says.
(Emphasis mine)---Is this a hammer in search of a nail?

2.  New FDA Regulation Could Cripple Ranchers, Beer Brewers (HuffPo). Beer Brewers, large and small, for 100's of years have been either giving away or selling cheap the spent beer grains to farmers to use as high quality animal feed. 

"Since the grains are used to brew beer, they have already been deemed safe for human consumption. But the FDA fears the lack of oversight from the time of brewing to the time the grains are fed to the animals could lead to contamination. 
The FDA did not comment on a request from The Huffington Post for reports of any illnesses related to the consumption of spent grains."
(emphasis mine)---Is this a hammer in search of a nail?

Read both articles and ask yourself:  Regulatory over-reach or pro-active governing in the name of public safety?

Are there any nails here that need hammering?

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