In-house and outside counsel joined representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Chicago for the American Conference Institute’s Food Law Conference on April 9-11, 2019. The conference covered a number of key topics, including the impact of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation, changes to California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop. 65) and emerging issues such as hemp and cannabis ingredients, blockchain and 3D-printed foods.

Shook Partner Lindsey Heinz presented with Matt Dornauer, general counsel for Phusion Projects, LLC, on how to navigate the unique challenges of marketing and advertising through social media. Heinz and Dornauer discussed a wide array of issues, including what food and beverage companies can glean from FDA social media guidance in the pharma space, how to draft a comprehensive social media policy and overarching best practices to ensure that companies are getting the most out of social media marketing while still mitigating risk.

The conference also highlighted the increasing importance of thoroughly understanding supply chains. A number of sessions touched on the various ways supply chains are important in dealing with recalls and hazard analyses, foreign supplier verification requirements, and insurance and contracting issues. Speakers also covered the upcoming implementation of the intentional adulteration requirements under FSMA and genetically modified organism content disclosures being implemented by USDA. Douglas Stearn, deputy director for regulatory affairs at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, provided insight on the agency’s priorities, including the continuing focus on proactive approaches based in science. David O’Toole, senior staff attorney with the FTC, discussed the potential impact of having a fully staffed Commission and possible trends in FTC actions, including the potential for assessing economic harms related to false or misleading “Made in the USA” claims. The speakers also discussed litigation issues and trends in class actions and Prop. 65 enforcement actions.

The conference also provided an opportunity to hear from and engage with in-house counsel from a number of industry leaders, including The Hershey Co., KIND Snacks, Jelly Belly Candy Co., Legal Seafood, LLC, and Campbell Soup Co. The speakers discussed a variety of concerns in the industry as well as best practices in several areas, including supply chain management, allergy labeling, food safety issues and recall management.

Reporting provided by Shook Associate Elizabeth Fessler.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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