The Corner

La Reyne Le Veult

Those words are Norman French for “The Queen wills it.” It is used to announce the Royal Assent to a bill passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It looks that we might have to get used to them in the USA as well.

Why? Well, those nutritional labels on the sides of food and beverages are about to get a whole lot more intrusive, with the FDA announcing a “sweeping update” to the regulations requiring them. According to Politico Pro (subscription required), “First lady Michelle Obama — whose staff was key in getting the proposal out of FDA, where the labeling revamp has been in the works for 10 years — is slated to announce the changes at a Let’s Move! anniversary event at the White House with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg” (emphasis added). In other words, we wouldn’t be getting these changes yet were it not for the personal intervention of someone with no elected office, who just happens to be married to an elected official.

These reforms are not minor. The most important change is that they are increasing the size of a serving, so all foods and beverages will immediately appear to be more calorie-laden than before. Anyone watching their calories could be easily caught out by this, and eat less, for instance. But that is irrelevant to the main point at issue here — the role of the First Lady. As one food-industry insider told Politico, “I don’t think anyone is going to be foolish enough to attack the first lady — that’s just stupid.”

So not only does this unelected person get to drive public policy, she also gets to chill opposition to her desires.

If I’d wanted a Queen, I’d have stayed in the United Kingdom.

— Iain Murray is a Vice President at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

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