Wednesday, August 06, 2008


The Columbus Dispatch accepted my letter.
Last Friday's editorial announced the Ohio Department of Agriculture's plan to "make tainted food known to the public" (Food warnings, July 25). The article notes that grocers are "under no obligation" to tell consumers they have contaminated beef. But this is simply untrue.

While there are no laws forcing grocers to inform the public, they face pressure from a very important court: the court of public opinion. The reputation effect, as economists note, compels businesses to act in the interest of their clients. Not wanting to lose future customers, Kroger was driven to "pull tainted meat off its shelves" despite the costs incurred.

Admittedly, market forces do not work perfectly. But neither do government bureaucracies. If Ohioans corrected their romantic view of government they would likely see the superiority of market solutions.

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