A reasonable, but perhaps not accurate, assumption of US consumers is that they food they are eating will not make them sick. Yet, every year, about 15% of the US population gets sick from food they eat.
About 48 million Americans get sick from food-borne diseases each year, according to the agency. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
A radical free marketeer would say “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware. But in the age of industrial agriculture and a high societal reliance on prepared foods, such ideological purity is not realistic. Consumers cannot tot around a food testing lab to every meal they eat or every grocery store they visit. We rely on a combination of the merchant and our government to protect us from food that makes us ill. This is because, the cost of that Chipotle burrito or that head of lettuce does not capture the true cost of giving perfect information to the consumer about the safety of the food they are about to consume. That is why we need regulations.