Bloomberg's 16 ounce enforcement shows ignorance about measurements

New York City’s ban on select beverages larger than 16 ounces struck many of us as a progressive nanny state running its due course. It was a senseless blow to liberty, expanding government in a pointless way, that also happened to affect less-wealthy New Yorkers disproportionately.


But as the city now turns toward enforcement of the ban, new developments in city government point to a disturbing revelation: New York City’s health department knows nothing about science, about testing, or about how to use calibrated instrumentation to make accurate measurements in restaurants.

In expanding the nanny state, Mike Bloomberg reveals New Yorkers probably aren’t very safe under its growing umbrella.

According to the Daily Mail, the New York City Health Department is going to begin inspecting beverage sizes. If an establishment is serving over 16 fluid ounces, then that’s a violation. Here’s the problem though: to make these measurements, inspectors are to be issued “17-ounce cups.” The levels of ignorance this reveals, are shocking.

First, the only reason to size the testing device so close to the desired measurement, is to prevent the inspector from having to read any indicators on the testing device. This suggests health inspectors cannot or will not be trained as new health laws come into effect. How untrained are they? How incompetent are they at reading instrumentation? How do they inspect restaurants now? Guesswork? Hunches? Surely not science-based measurements, if they need to make measurements solely by whether a cup is going to overflow.

Second, this suggests the health department doesn’t know or care how to keep a measuring device calibrated. If they were accustomed were making measurements based on accurate tools used by scientists and testers worldwide, others who are entrusted with keeping us safe, then this announcement would never have happened. Measurements would be made based not on the size of a cup, but rather on precise marks or gauges. Instead of a cup, maybe a cylinder, which would be easier to read. But apparently no reading is intended to be done by health inspectors in New York City.


Third, that this inclination toward simplistic, inaccurate, non-standard testing even exists, tells us that health inspections in New York City, and perhaps nationwide, have nothing to do with accurate, science-based testing of anything. If the only way these inspectors can gauge a beverage is to eyeball whether a measuring cup is going to overflow, then it’s clear all they’re ever doing is just taking a look at things, and making a guess.

Germ theory, temperatures, hygeine. These are not matters we want to leave to guesswork. In putting together this crazy scheme to enforce the even crazier beverage ban, New York City has called into question how an entire government department works. Well done, Nurse Bloomberg, well done.


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