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Do We Need Food Lawyers or a Food Law Specialization?

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#1 MWidra

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 01:02 PM

It was hard to decide where to put this.  This article in Food Safety News makes the point that we need lawyers who have learned about food law, and can work towards the fixing of what is wrong with our modern food system.  An interesting article, one that says that the environmental lawyers were instrumental in the changes in how we treat our world, so the same process could work for food.

 

http://www.foodsafet...s/#.VRP_l00tH3g

 

Martha


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"...everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."  Viktor E. Frankl

 

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending."  The Muppets


#2 Scampi

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 02:43 PM

A Canadian immigrant died at 40 years old at work, working for a poultry processor. His family is now without a source of income, he left 4 children and a wife behind. He was working between 60 and 80 hours a week for minimum wage (11 bucks an hour).  We need to address the employment laws first if we have any hope if initiating true reform in the food industry. 

As long as big business is allowed to exploit, they will. Fines are not hefty enough, and the big companies have deep pockets to fight charges in a court of law. 


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#3 Simon

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 03:24 PM

The article fires a scattergun at many complex issues some of which are/are not distinct to the food industry. Food safety, food quality, healthy eating, labelling, ethical business practices, employment law, safety and welfare of workers.  Laws and lawyers may play a part in improving these areas.  In the US things are developing already with Laws (FSMA) as well as voluntary (well sort of voluntary) standards such as GFSI.


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#4 Scampi

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 03:29 PM

I would hazard a guess ( don't mean to offend) that as long as the US considers itself "the united states" of america, instead of America, that not much will change. Even FSMA has an incredibly tough road ahead unifying all the states who's law (correct me if i'm wrong) sometimes out ranks federal legislation. In Canada, you MUST be a federal plant to ship outside your provincial borders, and ALL of the provinces base provincial legislation on federal rules and mandates.

 

CFIA used to be under the umbrella of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, now they report to Health Canada,,,,,,that is a COMPLETELY different mandate and outcome, processors don't like it, but ultimately the consumer benefits.


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#5 MWidra

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:03 PM

The article fires a scattergun at many complex issues some of which are/are not distinct to the food industry. Food safety, food quality, healthy eating, labelling, ethical business practices, employment law, safety and welfare of workers.  Laws and lawyers may play a part in improving these areas.  In the US things are developing already with Laws (FSMA) as well as voluntary (well sort of voluntary) standards such as GFSI.

Yes, that is true.  All administrative law issues are complicated and overlap with other areas.  Look at the legal issues involved with worker safety, for example.  But there was a need for attorneys to learn about all those issues and be able to apply them to situations that arose, so that people can be protected and changes could be made.  It happened, and now we have attorneys who are knowledgeable on those issues.

 

 The first step in getting trained food safety attorneys is for the law schools to have those courses in their curriculum.  That way attorneys don't have to learn as they pursue cases, where they may make mistakes that would harm their clients.  Without the training, few attorneys would take on the cases that really need to be handled.

 

I would hazard a guess ( don't mean to offend) that as long as the US considers itself "the united states" of america, instead of America, that not much will change. Even FSMA has an incredibly tough road ahead unifying all the states who's law (correct me if i'm wrong) sometimes out ranks federal legislation. In Canada, you MUST be a federal plant to ship outside your provincial borders, and ALL of the provinces base provincial legislation on federal rules and mandates.

 

CFIA used to be under the umbrella of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, now they report to Health Canada,,,,,,that is a COMPLETELY different mandate and outcome, processors don't like it, but ultimately the consumer benefits.

I know, our federal system is confusing to others.  Heck, it's sometimes confusing to Americans.  But states cannot supersede federal law when a company sells across state lines.  The Interstate Commerce Clause of the US Constitution gives the federal government jurisdiction in that.  To manufacture food in the US and sell it across state lines, you are regulated by the FDA.  The individual states here sometimes get into the news when they want to "do it my way" rather than follow the federal mandate, but it covers very little of the food that is made here.  The GMO labeling and the raw milk issues make news headlines, but most of the states follow the FDA.  We do have a quirky system because of the FDA/USDA dichotomy, and I'm not sure that anyone knows how that will be sorted out.  It will be interesting, to say the least.

 

As a very fun aside, that Interstate Commerce Clause is the most often invoked part of the US Constitution.  It gives the federal government jurisdiction over migratory birds, carjackings, and kidnappings as well as selling and transporting goods to be sold.  "Commerce" is very loosely defined here.

 

Martha


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"...everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."  Viktor E. Frankl

 

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending."  The Muppets


#6 Scampi

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 05:28 PM

Migratory birds as "commerce" I will store that one in my giggle bank :roflmao:


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#7 Ninja_Neill

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 05:46 PM

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:ph34r:  :ninja:   "I'm the Secretary of State, brought to you by Carl's Jr."


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#8 shea quay

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 12:39 AM

For once, I'm biting my lip on this issue. Whilst I appreciate Scampi's feelings towards the unfortunate passing of a general operative, the issue of general law over "food law" regarding the performance of Quality Managers is an interesting thread that deserves deeper discussion.  


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#9 MWidra

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 02:09 PM

For once, I'm biting my lip on this issue. Whilst I appreciate Scampi's feelings towards the unfortunate passing of a general operative, the issue of general law over "food law" regarding the performance of Quality Managers is an interesting thread that deserves deeper discussion.  

To understand what you meant, I looked into UK legal system, and food safety is treated differently in the US system.  Here, we have something called Administrative Law (different from the UK Administrative Law) that are the regulations issued by administrative agencies.  Those agencies are set up through legislation (enabling legislation) which gives the mandate and scope of the agency.  This is why FSMA is coming only due to a law passed by Congress, because the mandate of the FDA had to change to be able to shift to a preventative approach. 

 

The regulations issued by administrative agencies are laws, just as binding as if they were passed by Congress.  They are just promulgated through a different mechanism.

 

An administrative agency is part of the executive branch of the government.  The President oversees how it is run.  The agency can issue regulations, with the proper due notice to the public, but those regulations can be repealed by the legislature.  So an FDA regulation could be removed by Congress, but not modified. 

 

Sorry for the lesson on how US administrative law works, but our legal system, though based on British Common Law, changed after we became our own country after our Revolution, and it is fairly unique as I understand.  I'm sure that some of you already knew this, but for others who have to deal with the FDA, it may help better understand how it works.

 

The practice of administrative law for an attorney is a little more complicated than tort law (lawsuits) or criminal law.  It requires knowing the mandates and scope for many diverse agencies.  Most lawyers don't want to get into all those complexities, or want to only deal with one agency's regulations.  So having training for attorneys in law school to help them understand food law would be the start of having attorneys to add those issues to what they already work on.

 

This system is very complicated, but it is all part of the checks and balances in our Constitution, not allowing any one branch to get too uppity.  We kind of got worried about that during our colonial days.

 

Martha


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"...everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."  Viktor E. Frankl

 

"Life's like a movie, write your own ending."  The Muppets


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#10 JesseBender

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 09:06 AM

I think yes, we the food lawyers must be there. Since the food lawyers will be the persons who will be knowing the legal steps that are to be taken when the situation comes which is related to food safety. If the issue belongs to food safety, then the food lawyers can defend their client if the person is true. 


Edited by Simon, 19 March 2016 - 09:12 AM.
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