[guest post by JVW]
And no, that’s not some euphemism for a teenage boy’s lurid fantasies. Big government quite literally regulates frozen cherry pies, and at long last those of us who love that savory treat might be due for some relief. Former FDA head Scott Gottlieb has announced that these regulations, enacted a half-century ago, may finally be repealed. The folks at Reason have the mind-boggling details:
[. . .] In 1971, the FDA established regulations imposing particular standards for frozen cherry pies. The lengthy regulations (read them here) determine not just how much of the pie must be made of cherries (25 percent by weight) and how many of the cherries may be “blemished,” or have scabs, or be of less than stellar quality (under 15 percent, even though pies are a great place to put blemished fruit to keep it from going to waste), but also establishes complicated rules for determining compliance.
While the FDA has been granted the power by Congress to regulate frozen foods and fruits, including pies, it’s very important to explain that these regulations were only implemented for cherry pies. There are no other similar regulations for other types of fruit pies. And there are no similar regulations for fresh pies to control the number and quality of the cherries in them. Just frozen pies, and only the cherry ones.
[. . .]
The [FDA] also notes that the regulations forbid the use of artificial sweeteners in unbaked frozen cherry pies, and only those pies and no other types of pies (including unfrozen cherry pies). So the feds are forbidding bakers from creating lower-sugar options, even if that’s what consumers are asking for.
But then later on in the report comes the punchline, showing you just how efficiently and adroitly our federal bureaucracy moves [bolded emphasis added]:
What’s amazing about all of this, and very relevant given all the horrible foot-dragging we’ve seen from the FDA in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, is that the petition from the ABA was submitted to the FDA in 2005. It has taken 15 years and an FDA head who was actually interested in deregulation to get rid of an obsolete rule that didn’t really serve any valuable role in protecting consumers.
There was of course a great deal to lament about the Donald Trump Administration, but we can celebrate the fact that at the end of the day they did generally operate from a predilection for deregulation and a curbing of arbitrary bureaucratic powers. Reason ties in the FDA’s reluctance to loosen restrictions on frozen cherry pies to the department’s foot-dragging on COVID-19 vaccines and testing kits. As we watch Joe Biden staff his cabinet with fellow Washington-lifers and pro-regulation ideologues, we can expect newly-empowered bureaucrats to redouble efforts to stifle innovation and micromanage businesses, all in the name of safety and social justice. It’s even quite possible that the removal of the cherry pie regulations, which cannot take place until after a 90-day public review period and therefore would officially be finalized in the early days of a Biden Administration, could be cast aside by the Washington-knows-best crowd that we expect to seize the reins of power. So it may yet be a long time before cherry pie supplants apple pie as the emblem of American freedom.