"It’s all premised on the implausible idea that people who make and sell us food have no concern as to whether it makes us sick. It only takes a quick second, though, to realize that this idea just isn’t true. So long as there is a functioning, consumer-driven marketplace, customer focus, which presumably includes not killing you, is the best regulator. Producer reputation has been a huge feature of profitability, too. And hygiene was a huge feature of reputation — long before Yelp.
Lawrence Reed deals ably with other myths of the meat-packing industry. Sinclair’s book was not intended as a factual account. It was a fantasy rendered as a socialist screed. It did drum up support for regulation, but the real reason for the act’s passage was that the large Chicago meat packers realized that regulation would hurt their smaller competitors more than themselves. Meat inspections imposed costs that cartelized the industry. That’s why the largest players were the law’s biggest promoters. Such laws almost have more to do with benefiting elites than protecting the public."
(Via.) Foundation for Economic Education When Government Spreads Disease: The 1906 Meat Inspection Act