food-lit-imagePerkins Coie has published its first Food Litigation Year in Review, covering key developments and trends in food litigation for calendar year 2016.  The Year in Review’s key insights include data-driven assessments of how (and where) the plaintiffs’ bar has continued its assault on the food industry in 2016. That data reflect the filing

Amnesty International recently released a report alleging that supply chains for production of palm oil—a common ingredient in many consumer products—are tainted by forced and child labor. In the nearly 150-page report titled “The Great Palm Oil Scandal: Labour Abuses Behind Big Brand Names,” Amnesty International accuses several major brand-name consumer goods companies of sourcing palm oil from suppliers that operate plantations where the alleged abuses took place.

The report has already received substantial media attention, including articles published by Forbes, The Washington Post, Reuters and Yahoo News. Although the accuracy of the report’s assertions have not been tested, it nonetheless emphasizes the growing importance of proper diligence in supply chain management and compliance with associated legal obligations for a company’s disclosures about its supply chain practices.


Continue Reading Palm Oil Supply Chain Abuses Reported by Amnesty International: Steps to Mitigate Legal Risk

In our previous look at the top concerns of online food retailers, we discussed the importance of identifying your role in the industry and key labeling issues. Applying the brick-and mortar food laws and rules to online businesses presents the cutting edge of food law and often requires the exercise of judgment to effectuate the policies underlying food law and to harmonize those with the law governing Internet sales. Here are a few more issues that Internet food retailers should ask themselves:

  1. How do you ensure food safety?

Food safety is an important issue for all aspects of your operation. It affects how you produce, receive, and store food products. As an online business, you won’t have customers taking custody at your premises. How do you ensure that food remains fresh, safe, and healthful throughout the delivery process? What are the best ways to work with delivery providers? And who regulates those operations?
Continue Reading Food Law + E-Commerce: Safety, Price and Other Top Issues for Online Food Retailers

Are you selling, or thinking about selling, food products on the Internet? The online sale of groceries alone is an $11 billion per year business in the U.S. alone. Add to that the online sale of prepared foods, and the number of businesses and revenue skyrockets. Most of the detailed laws and regulations governing the sale of food were developed over the past century based upon traditional brick-and-mortar stores, where food labels can be read in store aisles, products are weighed to order, and the general cleanliness of the operation is apparent to consumers and inspectors alike. Applying these laws and rules to online businesses presents the cutting edge of food law, and often requires the exercise of judgment to effectuate the policies underlying food law and to harmonize those with the law governing Internet sales.

Here are some of the top issues that online food retailers should ask themselves:

  1. What are my roles and responsibilities in the food business?

The application of many food laws and rules depends upon characterizing a company’s role. Food manufacturers and processors are easy to identify. What about others? Are you a food retailer, a delivery operation, or just a facilitator of transactions? A lot can depend on how these questions are answered. Do you need to register as a food facility under federal law, or can you claim an exemption? Do you need a food license under state law? Do you need to collect sales tax? What is your role in the event of a product recall?
Continue Reading Food Law + E-Commerce: Top Issues for Online Food Retailers