The U.S. Department of Agriculture has requested comments on "the labeling of meat and poultry products comprised of or containing cultured cells derived from animals subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act." Comments will be accepted until November 2, 2021. The announcement details the U.S. Cattlemen's Association's 2018 petition urging the agency to "limit the definition of 'beef' to products derived from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, and thereby prohibit foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells from being labeled as 'beef.'” In response to the petition, the agency received more than 6,000 comments "from trade associations, consumer advocacy groups, businesses operating in the meat, poultry, and cultured food product markets, and consumers," the announcement states. "Most comments opposed the petition overall; however, nearly all generally agreed that cultured meat and beef should be labeled in a manner that…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the results of a study on the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in processed foods, including baby foods. Out of 167 samples, three products had detectable levels of PFAS, the agency stated, and the amounts were not elevated to a level of concern. "Based on the best available current science, the FDA has no scientific evidence that the levels of PFAS found in the samples tested indicate a need to avoid any particular food in the food supply." “The FDA’s testing for certain PFAS in such a wide range of foods available, including those commonly eaten by babies and young children, is among the first study of its kind,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock in a press release. “Although our studies to date, including these newly released results, do not suggest that there is any need to avoid particular…

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has joined three other advocacy groups and four poultry producers to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update poultry food safety standards. "While progress on reducing foodborne illness has been at a standstill, scientific knowledge of Salmonella has greatly increased and recognized best practices for Campylobacter and other pathogens have advanced. Science tells us that current performance standards do not effectively target the particular types of Salmonella and the levels of bacteria that pose the greatest risks of illness, and the overall regulatory framework does not adequately harness modern tools for preventing and verifying control of the bacteria that are making people sick," the letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack states. "In order to finally make public health progress on Salmonella and Campylobacter illnesses and meet the Healthy People 2030 targets, significant change in the [Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)]…

Snyder's-Lance Inc. has voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit seeking to appeal a decision holding that it could not trademark "Pretzel Crisps" as a name for its product, which Frito-Lay North America Inc. had challenged before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Snyder's-Lance Inc. v. Frito-Lay N. Am. Inc., No. 21-1758 (4th Cir., filed August 31, 2021). The dismissal concludes years-long litigation disputing whether the "Pretzel Crisps" mark was too generic to be registered. An appeal of a lower court's ruling that the term is generic had been pending until Snyder's-Lance's voluntary dismissal.

Shook Partner Cary Silverman joined the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform's (ILR's) Oriana Senatore for an episode of the organization's podcast Cause for Action to discuss his work preparing "The Food Court: Developments in Litigation Targeting Food and Beverage Marketing." Senatore asks Silverman,  "Can you give us a flavor for this litigation? What types of food lawsuits are courts seeing and what is driving this increase?" "Flavor is exactly the right word, because that's the type of lawsuits that we're seeing most recently," Silverman explains. "Lawsuits that are concentrating on the flavoring or the ingredients of products seem to be, as one might say, the 'flavor of the month' of this type of litigation. We've seen, in our 2017 paper,  there were certain types of lawsuits, like slack fill, that were sort of the rage a couple of years ago. While those have fallen to the wayside for various…

Shook Partner Cary Silverman, Partner Jim Muehlberger and Of Counsel Adriana Paris have authored a report on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform on food and beverage marketing. The executive summary appears below, with permission from the Institute for Legal Reform. For additional reading on this subject, please see Muehlberger and Silverman's August 10, 2021, Law360 article, "TransUnion Ruling Should Help Curb DC Consumer Claims" (PDF download also available). Lawsuits targeting food and beverage labeling have reached record levels. The unrelenting surge of class actions results from imaginative, shakedown lawsuits generated by a relatively small group of attorneys. Four years ago, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) documented a dramatic rise in food and beverage marketing litigation. Since that time, the number of food class actions has continued to rise, and the COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to slow them down. This paper explores the latest…

Shook Of Counsel John Johnson III will join AIB International's Judi Lazaro for the second webinar in a series on answering frequently asked questions about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. During the webinar, Johnson and Lazaro will ask each other questions, then they will end the session with an open Q&A. Join the session on Monday, July 26, 2021, from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. CDT. Register now >>

By Anna El-Zein and John Johnson III Sesame is the ninth Major Food Allergen with the passage of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act (FASTER) Act on April 23, 2021. Starting on January 1, 2023, any food “introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce” must appropriately declare the presence of “sesame” as a major food allergen. However, the FASTER Act is more than just updating food labels; it also implicates supplier controls, Food Safety or HACCP Plans, sanitation practices and other procedures. With the compliance deadline looming, companies must start thinking about how FASTER affects their procedures sooner rather than later. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), a packaged food is misbranded if the label fails to declare the presence of a major allergen, either in the ingredient list or in a “contains” statement. With the addition of sesame to the “Big 8,”…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has "launched a challenge to spur the development of affordable, tech-enabled traceability tools to help protect people and animals from contaminated foods by enabling the rapid identification of their sources and helping remove them from the marketplace as quickly as possible." The agency has asked "food technology solution providers, public health advocates, entrepreneurs and innovators across the human and animal food supply chain to present food traceability solutions that utilize economic models that are affordable, with costs that are proportional to the benefits received and can scale to encourage widespread adoption." FDA will accept submissions until July 30, 2021, and will select up to 12 winners for the challenge. Winners "will have the opportunity to present their work publicly in a webinar planned for September and their videos will be posted for public viewing."

A Russian cybercriminal group known as a "ransomware as a service" organization attacked JBS SA, the world's largest meat processor, according to the FBI. The attack led several of the company's meat processing plants to halt production for several days. While JBS is "the largest food manufacturer yet to be hit by ransomware," according to the Associated Press, "at least 40 food companies have been targeted by ransomware gangs over the last year." A cybersecurity expert reportedly told the news outlet that food companies are at "about the same level of security as manufacturing and shipping. Which is to say, not very.”

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