Friday, May 17, 2019

Feds Announce Drastic Deregulation of Cherry Pies

There's a dangerous freeing of the market about to happen.  The Food and Drug Administration is about to deregulate frozen cherry pies, according to this summary on the Independent Institute.  I don't know if you're aware that they even had regulations on frozen cherry (and other) pies; but if not, you're probably not paying attention to the growing size of the Code of Federal Regulations and the fervor to regulate everything.

When President Trump took office, he promised to eliminate 75 to 80% of FDA regulations, which is clearly a tall hurdle.  Deregulating cherry pies is just one small, slightly comical step in that direction.  Comical because of the specificity of the rules and the questions that ensue.  Think "three reindeer rule" in cherry pies and you're there.
The FDA recently committed to deregulating the frozen cherry pie market. Specifically, the agency is re-examining current regulations dictating that frozen cherry pies are required to be at least 25 percent cherries by weight and that no more than 15 percent of these cherries may be blemished
 Clearly an obvious question is "what does 'blemished cherry' mean"?  To quote the FDA,
Not more than 15 percent by count of the cherries in the pie are blemished with scab, hail injury, discoloration, scar tissue, or other abnormality. A cherry showing skin discoloration (other than scald) having an aggregate area exceeding that of a circle nine thirty-seconds of an inch in diameter is considered to be blemished. A cherry showing discoloration of any area but extending into the fruit tissue is also considered to be blemished.

Failure to meet these requirements means the product gets slapped with a label indicating it fell "Below standard in quality," along with notes about cherry content or blemished cherries.
Personally, I'm going to be that if you're not a cherry grower, pie maker, or otherwise in the industry, you probably couldn't tell any one of those cherry blemishes from the others.  If you took a bite out of a cherry and it tasted off, you probably don't care that it looked beautiful, and likewise if it was discolored or had a scar but tasted wonderful, you probably don't care much either.  I'm not quite sure if I'd care if it had an aggregate discolored area of 0.2813" diameter (9/32) or 0.3125" diameter (10/32 =>5/16").

But that's not all.  Everything has to be defined.  For example, "Frozen" doesn't mean baked and then frozen; it's much more complicated than that. 
The agency has been regulating frozen pies since 1977. In that time, it has developed numerous additional regulations specifying what makes cherries blemished, what counts as frozen, and how much crust is needed to cover the pie. Frozen cherry pies are also the only fruit pies which must meet these standards.
I'm sure there are going to be some nanny state lovers cowering in fear, afraid that they'll get 24% cherries instead of the regulation 25%, and never consider that the market might encourage cherry pie makers to boast their pies have the Most Cherries or the Best Cherries.  Certainly, when there are standards like this, or on other foods, there is some good, the question is always whether the regulations do more harm than good.  Ordinarily, the big companies are in favor of the regulations.  They propose regulations and know how to live with them.  That's not the case with frozen cherry pie regulation.
Even bakers seeking political favors (yes, they exist) are eager to see such outlandish regulations eliminated. As one New York Post article reports, Lee Sanders of the American Bakers Association is “hopeful the cherry pie standard will finally be revoked, but that it would not make a big difference for the industry.” It’s not every day you find a regulation so poorly executed that not even special interest groups support them.

("Oven Fresh"?  What do you mean by that??)
Regardless of how the regulation passed, and how long overdue removing it is, we should be happy it will soon be gone. Maybe next the FDA will loosen its requirements on the size of the holes in Swiss cheese.


  1. Always remember, regulators get paid for regulating. If they didn't write regulations, they'd have to . . . work.

    I recall one regulator (known to a work colleague) who wrote regulations. He wrote them in such a fashion that they were decipherable only by him. After retiring from the government agency in question? Consultant at nearly $300 an hour.

    1. What you write reminds me of Philip K. Howard's book, The Death of Common Sense. It continues to be a compelling read of absurd over-regulation.

      Also, I remember for a Construction Management class, a senior OSHA investigator gave a lecture. He pointed to the very think book containing all the OSHA regulations and said, quote: "If you comply with some regulations in this book it is factual that you will not be in compliance with other OSHA regulations." end quote.

      He went on to say that no inspector knows or can even enforce all the regulations in this book, the book he called the 'OSHA bible'. I would be surprised if the same is not true for the other alphabet agencies, departments, bureaus.

      The rule of men promulgated by unelected bureaucrats is the death of us all.


    2. Rick, I had a similar talk from about EPA rules instead of OSHA. They stacked about a three foot tall stack of regs on the table and said, "what do you think the chances are that you didn't break one of the regulations in here in the last year?"

      The chance is zero by design. It employs lawyers and EPA consultants for one thing. Scares off manufacturing startups for another. The greenies who run the EPA by proxy don't want manufacturing jobs in America. Or people, for that matter.

  2. Now that President Trump is dumping the regulations, how about getting rid of the regulators, too?

  3. No, no -- the cherry pie standards are an example of good government. The terms are objective and defined. The CFR Swiss cheese recipe would actually make Swiss cheese. Compare this to the Social Security recipe, which does not produce retirement, it produces national bankruptcy.

    Speaking of the SSA, the FL driver's license office gives out licenses in the form of a plastic card in one appointment. The SSA is still giving out paper cards, which cannot be laminated without de-officializing them, and it takes two weeks to receive them by mail. Obviously, the SSA is evil for the sake of being evil.

  4. Seems like the regulation madness by unelected bureauc-rats has taken a hold of most of the Northern Hemisphere to make life difficult for farmers and growers. What worries me though is the only way of getting rid of the blemished cherries, crooked cucumbers and bent bananas, is genetic modification. Which in itself is another rabbit hole.
    (tongue in cheek)

    Actually, last time I ate swiss cheese, I didn't count the holes in the slices or the size of them. Just tasted fine to me. Toss the regulators.

  5. It will matter (or "bear fruit", if you will) When either Trump or the head of the Dept. of agriculture announces that the 57 Cherry Pie inspectors, 10 supervisors, and three Undersecretaries of Pie Inpsection are being laid off immediately, and their jobs classified as obsolete in perpetuity, rather than shuffling them over to inspect the size of holes in Swiss Cheese and the quantity of bug parts per ton of sorghum until pensionable.

    Otherwise, they're just re-arranging deck chairs.

    Getting rid of the regs is window dressing.
    Getting rid of the enforcers and administrators of those regs is meat and potatoes action.

    When I meet former federal pie inspectors and their ilk as barristas and flipping burgers at Mickey D's, we'll be onto something.