Food & Health

Food & Health


Omar Ahmad Al-Ubaydli, Patrick McLaughlin | Nov 12, 2014
RegData is a new database that quantifies federal regulation. It analyzes the text of federal regulations to create novel and objective measures of the accumulation of regulations in the economy overall and across different industries in the United States. In addition, RegData measures the degree to which different groups of regulations, such as those from a particular agency, target specific industries.
Michael L. Marlow | Oct 01, 2014
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently proposed expanding its regulatory authority over tobacco products to include the regulation of cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), and other novel tobacco products such as dissolvable products and gels. Cigars are the most commonly used among this group, though e-cigarette use is rapidly expanding.
Michael L. Marlow | Sep 03, 2014
Discussion of how nudging by governments differs from nudging by markets leads to the conclusion that market nudging is the more promising avenue of the two for helping citizens lose weight.
Sherzod Abdukadirov | Jun 03, 2013
This study examines how risk trade-offs undermine safety regulations. Safety regulations often come with unintended consequences in that regulations attempting to reduce risk in one area may increase risks elsewhere.
John Leeth, Nathan Hale | Apr 23, 2013
Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) to create a safer working environment. The Act created two federal agencies: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which establishes and enforces workplace safety and health standards, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which researches the causes and remedies of occupational injuries and illnesses. OSHA is the fourth pillar of the US safety policy system, the others being the legal system, state workers’ compensation insurance programs, and the labor market.
John Leeth | Dec 10, 2012
When OSHA was established, proponents believed it would dramatically improve the safety and health of American workers. During the forty years of its existence, workplace fatalities and nonfatal injuries and illnesses have fallen but OSHA is not the major cause of this decline. Changes in the industrial mix of workers and improvements in safety technology have combined with expanded employer incentives unrelated to OSHA to decrease worker injuries and illnesses. The financial incentives for employers to expand expenditures on worker safety and health created by the labor market, states' workers' compensation insurance programs, and the legal system swamp the meager incentives created by OSHA.

Testimony & Comments

Sean Mulholland | Feb 16, 2015
Under the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing new technology requirements for all new and existing dental practices that use dental amalgam, which is the main source of mercury discharges into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). The proposed rule would require dental offices to use amalgam separators and best management practices (BMPs) for capturing mercury and other metals before they are discharged into POTWs.
Michael L. Marlow | Jun 27, 2014
This public interest comment estimates the range of annual benefits (costs avoided) associated with e-cigarette use as $15.6 billion to $49.2 billion and that 2.4 million to 6.4 million smokers may potentially become ex-smokers by using e-cigarettes. Estimates are based on a range of quit rates from the current literature and assume all smokers interested in quitting use e-cigarettes. Even a fraction of estimated benefits (costs saved) are substantial. These estimates indicate the FDA is jeopardizing public health by not estimating benefits associated with e-cigarettes using data from readily available studies on their efficacy as harm-reduction tools.
Todd Nesbit | Mar 04, 2014
It is not clear based on the FDA’s analysis whether its proposed rule is in the best interest of society. FDA makes no attempt to estimate the benefits of the regulation, and the analysis of the costs is very likely biased downward due to questionable assumptions and omissions. Further, changes of behavior are only selectively considered—discussing them when logically leading to benefits but dismissing the costs associated with those changes in behavior.
Richard Williams | Jun 20, 2011
This comment analyzes the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s proposed rule concerning mandatory inspection of catfish and catfish products.
Richard Williams | Jun 09, 2009
In this Public Interest Comment, Managing Director of the Regulatory Studies Program Richard Williams suggests that the benefit/risk approach is the best method to assess the risk of methyl mercury…
Todd Zywicki | Dec 21, 2006
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing to create a report on food industry marketing activities and expenditures targeted to children and adolescents. The report is meant to analyze the…

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Mercatus Regulatory Studies


Before approving medical drugs sold on the market, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires companies to demonstrate that the drug meets basic standards of safety and effectiveness. This is a high bar to pass, and Americans expect that officials at the FDA will use sound judgment in deciding which drugs get approved, since these decisions will have profound effects on the health and well-being of the American people.



Michael L. Marlow | July 31, 2014
In this interview, Michael Marlow discusses his public interest comment. He argues that the FDA has failed to make a strong and compelling case that its proposed rule improves public health.

Recent Events

Please join the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for the first of a two-part series reviewing the basic features of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and related amendments and how regulatory flexibility analysis is intended to work in the context of federal rulemaking.


Media Clippings

Keith Hall | Aug 08, 2013
Keith Hall, a researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, finds that nearly all jobs created in the past few months have been part-time gigs.
Keith Hall | Aug 07, 2013
Moody’s Mark Zandi and the Mercatus Center’s Keith Hall, have suggested that the law’s effects can be seen in recent jobs data, after a few months of high part-time job creation.
Jerry Ellig | Jul 30, 2013
Jerry Ellig discusses White House efforts to shape behavior…
Tyler Cowen, Alexander Tabarrok | Jun 12, 2013
His goal is to put online in the next 5 to 10 years an entire series of courses that cover the basic sweep of his field.
Donald J. Boudreaux | Jun 27, 2012
Don Boudreaux explains how industrial capitalism has been the greatest anti-pollutant.
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