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nihilfit t1_j41255t wrote

Love this example of perverse incentives. It should make people think twice about using statute to solve practical problems: such moves have to be thought out very carefully. Simple prohibition doesn't always do what you think it should.


onioning t1_j42eurf wrote

There is no prohibition here.

It also seems to me to unquestionably be the right move. That some bakeries move towards using sesame in everything is a completely acceptable consequence. Worth noting that the products made by such a bakery would have been unnaceptable for someone with a sesame allergy before it got added to the list, because of very real cross contamination risk. The difference is now people have a way of knowing that. Very definitely a good thing. Also very literally no prohibition whatsoever.

The problem was "how are people to know if there's a sesame risk?" Curious how you would solve that problem without resorting to regulation.


nihilfit t1_j45zoga wrote

I'm not arguing against regulation at all; I'm only noting how attempts to regulate can go wrong. In this case, we wanted to protect severely allergic people but ended up making their lives more difficult. And I'm not sure that it is correct to say "the products made by such a bakery would have been unacceptable for someone with a sesame allergy", because I'm not aware that sesame-allergic people were having allergic reactions to these products in the past (I'm not saying they weren't, only that I don't know that they were.) It's out of a cautionary principle that regulations concerning cross-contamination arose, not, I am thinking, out of empirical evidence of a certain number of cases of allergic reaction per unit of population. You're right that it is a good thing that people can now weigh the risks accurately, but that doesn't change the fact that, by including sesame in products that previously didn't have any, companies have actually increased the risks of inadvertent allergic reaction and reduced the number of products that sesame-allergic people have to choose from. Further, I'm not saying that the companies have done anything wrong. Rather, I'm saying the situation is very much like that of the cobra bounty in India (the so-called cobra effect.) Such effects point to the largely ignored issue of the effectiveness of legislative endeavors, however well-intentioned.


onioning t1_j47fipr wrote

>I'm not aware that sesame-allergic people were having allergic reactions to these products in the past

They were. That's the point. Previously there could be sufficient sesame present due to contamination that wasn't listed on an ingredients statement. That's a big ol problem for those with sesame allergies. They're unable to tell from a label whether a product is safe. Now there is a way to tell. That's better.

Contamination is a very real and substantial threat to people with allergies. This isn't hypothetical. People died before we had these regs.

For someone with a serious sesame allergy this change opens up more options they can reliably safely consume. They no longer have to seek out niche producers who controlled for sesame. Now they can reliably read a label and know if there is a sesame risk or not.

This is not a cobra situation at all. Producers putting sesame in products to meet the new standard was an expected outcome, and an acceptable cost. The goal of better communication of allergens is achieved.

Worth noting that these changes take a million years to happen and there's a very long comment period. This isn't something that folks just decided. It's been in the works for like a decade and a half.