Legal Blog

Saturday Side Hustle: Food Safety

Happy New Year Hustlers!

Three weeks ago, I said we’d begin discussing food quality and safety the next week. Then I decided no one was going to read this blog until today, optimistically, so I figured I’d pick it up then.

Well, yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking on the topic of food and beverage to a group of interested people at our Breakfast Bar Speaker Series, which is held monthly by my partner, Linda Ostovitz. I had a great time, and hats off to the group, who were ready to engage at 7:30 AM on the second business day of the new year! And it made me think: I’m still going to start writing about safety this week, but I think I’m going to work backward up the supply chain from the consumer, which is a slight change in plan.

Let’s start with you and me: the consuming public.

Whether I am purchasing packaged foods from the grocery store, gourmet cheese from a specialty market, or a crab cake dinner at my favorite restaurant, I want to know two things first and foremost: I want to know what I’m going to eat, and I want to know it won’t make me sick.

The FDA and state and local agencies provide us all with regulations designed to make sure that we know these things. Domestic or foreign food facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for human (or animal) consumption in the United States – regardless of whether the food is sold across state lines – have to register with the FDA and follow agency regulations, which touch packaging, labeling and advertising, unless they are exempt.

Exemptions are provided for farms, retail establishments, restaurants, nonprofits that prepare and serve food directly (e.g., soup kitchens), certain fishing vessels and facilities directly regulated by the USDA, such as meat, poultry and egg producers.

I’ll start with the FDA, and particularly with mandatory labeling information for manufactured food products. The most essential requirements for the purposes of this article are that the food be identified, its ingredients listed, and its nutritional content provided.

For some foods, the FDA provides standards of identity within the Code of Federal Regulations. For example, click here to see what has to be in your package if you are producing milk. In other cases, the FDA requires that the “common or usual name” be used to identify foods that do not benefit from association with a published standard of identity, and there are some rules about what that means. What you choose to call your product cannot cause consumers to confuse it with something else, and that if your product is not 100% what you say it is, you had better specify what percentage of that product is what you say it is if not doing so would have an impact on purchasing decisions!

Remember, in the end, it’s all about telling us what’s in the package so we know what we’re buying.
To be continued.

 

For more information on this topic, please contact Scott Lloyd at slloyd@offitkurman.com.

 

ABOUT SCOTT LLOYD

slloyd@offitkurman.com | 301.575.0357

Scott Lloyd is a registered patent attorney who specializes in intellectual property counseling and commercialization work. He has served as a technology commercialization specialist and advisor to companies in a diverse array of markets, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, technology, and engineering. In addition, Mr. Lloyd spent ten years as in-house general counsel to small and mid-sized companies, where he managed corporate matters and resolved commercial disputes in addition to intellectual property strategy, and now serves in the same capacity for entrepreneurial clients. He serves as counsel to small and mid-sized business owners seeking to implement growth strategies and succession plans.

While in house, Mr. Lloyd has also contributed to the successful formation of international affiliates of domestic businesses as well as a $400,000,000 business acquisition.

 

 

ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN

Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the mid-Atlantic region. With over 185 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our twelve offices serve individual and corporate clients along the I95 corridor in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City regions. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.

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