One recent example of how government officials do a poor job of anticipating the consequences of their actions occurred after the FDA mandated warning labels for products containing sesame seeds.
The background: In an attempt to aid those with allergies to sesame seeds, the FDA added the ingredient to a longstanding list of items—including eggs, milk, and shellfish—whose presence must be noted on the packaging of food products and at restaurants.
- In response, food producers started adding sesame to products that previously contained none.
The food producers were simply doing what made economic sense. The FDA’s fines for not disclosing the inclusion of sesame are steep, and it’s much cheaper to add a few seeds to everything than to face potential penalties for accidental mixing.
- The result: Fewer sesame seed–free products are now available for people who are allergic.