Public Interest or Public Choice? The Beef Trust and the 1906 Meat Inspection Act
35 Pages Posted: 1 May 2019
Date Written: January 22, 2019
This paper challenges the recent research of public interest historians and argues the evidence supports a public choice interpretation of the 1906 Meat Inspection Act. First, the Beef Trust’s slaughter of diseased meat was due to the uncertainty over the science of disease transmission and using it was the only way at the time to make meat affordable to consumers. Second, critics of the Beef Trust’s sanitary practices were often biased and they exaggerated the problem. Third, the evidence is consistent with the argument that the Beef Trust captured the regulation because the law was associated with an increase in their market share, less product choice, and higher meat prices, all of which hurt consumers.
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