Welcome!

Welcome to On Food Law, a food law and policy blog administered by the Food Law Lab at Harvard Law and the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy at UCLA Law.  This blog will be a forum for food law scholars, policymakers, media, the food industry, and the interested public to engage with and discuss research in and ideas about food law and policy.

Food is, at once, the most personal and the most political.  Food affects all of us and the law affects all of food.  The things we eat, from morning coffee to late night snack, come to us as they are as the result of an elaborate web of legal regulations.  On Food Law’s goal is to build an understanding of the law of food, and ultimately improve both the law and our food.

We hope to foster and amplify the conversation among the many stakeholders, including industry, activists, academics, and politicians. Our authors will include members of the Food Law Lab, Resnick Program, Harvard Law, and UCLA Law faculty, staff, and students, as well as other scholars, policymakers, and individuals with ideas that may affect the food system.  We will also cross post to other blogs and relevant publications.

We would like for this blog to be a place of thoughtful discussion, and although our default is no comments, we will consider opening specific posts to comments or publishing responses.  Please see our policies.

Finally, please join the discussion, share what you see here, and stay in touch.  Follow us on Twitter at @UCLAFoodLaw and @thefoodlawlab, or email us at resnickprogram@law.ucla.edu, info@foodlawlab.com, or winters@law.ucla.edu.

 

 

 

Featured post

Food Law in the United States translated into Chinese

by Michael T. Roberts

I was pleased recently to approve a book cover sent to me by my colleagues at East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) for my treatise, Food Law in the United States, (Cambridge University Press 2016), which has been translated into Chinese. The translation had been previously celebrated in a ribbon-cutting event hosted by ECUST and other colleagues in Shanghai during Spring Break in March. This event was followed by a very lovely reception by colleagues and friends to celebrate the nuptials between Nancy Walker (Professor of Education, University of La Verne) and me last December. We were honored by gracious speeches, gifts, and well wishes. We were especially honored that Mr. Xu Jihghe, General Counsel to FDA and good friend, wished us congratulations via Skype from Beijing.

MTR.Book CoverMTR.book

My journey into food law in China has been a long and incredibly rewarding experience, punctuated by teaching and outreach. I began teaching food law in China a decade ago when I was practicing law in Washington D.C.  Since then, thanks to academic appointments with ECUST, Renmin University School of Law, and Michigan State University School of Law, I have been fortunate to delve into China food law as an instructor. The outreach includes a series of food-law roundtables and conferences in China many of which have been sponsored by the UCLA Resnick Program on a variety of issues. I was pleased last year to join Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center in a series of roundtables at law schools in China to address the regulation of food safety on the farm.

All of these experiences have given me a unique perspective on the development of food law in China over the last decade and has engendered an appreciation for the role of law – no matter the legal or political system – in adapting to changing social conditions and improving the quality of living for all citizens. From where I sit, I am optimistic that China will continue to improve its food governance, notwithstanding the tremendous challenges facing China in the regulation of its food supply. I also remain cautiously optimistic and hopeful that the spirit of cooperation between the United States and China on food regulation that really took hold after the melamine scandals of 2007-08, involving pet food and infant formula, will rise above the recent political rancor coming from Washington D.C.

 

MSU Global Food Law Current Issues Conference

by Diana Winters

I was lucky over the last few days to attend and present at the MSU College of Law Global Food Law Program’s fantastic Global Food Law Current Issues Conference. At the conference there was a mix of academics, practitioners, scientists, and industry representatives, and a truly global focus. Wednesday’s discussions of dietary supplement labeling, developments in organic foods, issues regarding animal food labeling were fascinating, and the keynote on food litigation by Bill Marler, was, for a food law aficionado, a dream come true. Thursday’s talk on professional consumers in China and their effect on food safety provided an opportunity to reflect on the absence of a citizen suit provision in the FDCA, and the discussion of new technologies in product supply chains was a chance to engage with blockchain, 3D printing, and other fun stuff. These are only a few highlights of the conference, which also included discussions of intellectual property, food security, and innovation in the food space, as well as opportunities to explore the food and environment of greater Lansing, Michigan. Note: if you find yourself in East Lansing, don’t miss the Zaha Hadid designed Broad Museum of Art—a short walk from campus (picture above).

 

The value of a conference that provides a space for academics, practitioners, and scientists to meet and mingle is immense, and I’m so glad I went.

Nutrition Education in the 2018 Farm Bill

by Julia McCarthy

 

The House Committee on Agriculture recently failed to pass its version of the farm bill, legislation that sets farm and food policy every five years. Despite obesity rates looming at all-time highs, H.R. 2 Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 proposed to weaken the very programs we know improve diets—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed), and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Assistance Program (EFNEP).[1] The changes H.R. 2 proposed would have disrupted local nutrition education services, affecting already vulnerable individuals. Understanding how these changes would have harmed public health and public health infrastructure could prevent the Senate from including these misguided provisions in its version of the farm bill.

Protecting SNAP is and should be advocates’ priority. Preserving programs that enhance food assistance and promote healthy eating is also crucial to our nation’s health. Program participants, media, and advocates have articulately denounced cuts to SNAP.[2] Less has been written about the concerning changes being proposed to our nation’s largest nutrition education program. Below, I explain what the term “nutrition education” means, how the farm bill affects nutrition education, and why the proposed changes are problematic. I also suggest several ways to provide stronger, more effective support for nutrition education.

What is Nutrition Education?

Nutrition promotion; obesity prevention; consumer education; food literacy; food policy, systems, and environmental change—these are just a few of the many names people use to describe nutrition education. Nutrition education has so many names because, as the widely-accepted definition for the term explains, it involves “any combination of educational strategies accompanied by environmental supports” that provide people with the motivation, skills, and knowledge to eat well.[3] Cooking demonstrations, gardening lessons, school wellness policy support, healthy retail projects, and recipe distribution are all examples of nutrition education for which the farm bill provides funding.[4]

In fact, there are at least 26 initiatives that can support nutrition education included in the farm bill. For some initiatives, nutrition education is both the main focus and required. SNAP-Ed, which funds direct education for low-income individuals as well as policy, systems, and environment changes in schools, stores, and other community locations, is an example.[5]

Other initiatives have a main focus distinct from nutrition education, such as providing food, but still require such education. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides low-income seniors food and resources such as recipes, is an example of this second type of initiative.[6]

Others still have a broader main focus—such as increasing fruit and vegetable sales—and allow, but do not require nutrition education. The Specialty Crop Block Grant, which states have used to support farm to school programs, is an example of this third kind of initiative.[7] See Table 1 below for a full list of nutrition education initiatives in the farm bill.

Table 1: Nutrition Education in the Farm Bill[8]

McCarthy.table

How the 2018 House Bill Would Have Affected Nutrition Education

The House Bill would have altered the structure of many of these initiatives, but most importantly, it would have combined the two largest nutrition education programs, SNAP-Ed and EFNEP. To combine the programs, H.R. 2 reallocated responsibility for SNAP-Ed from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the agency currently responsible for EFNEP. The bill repealed EFNEP, but maintained funding for the combined program at a level similar to current funding and added $65 million in annual discretionary funding.

At the state level, H.R. 2 shifted primary administrative responsibilities for SNAP-Ed away from state agencies to land grant universities (LGUs). The bill also altered states’ funding formula, basing future funding only on a jurisdiction’s current SNAP population, and not in any part on historical funding levels. Ultimately, merging SNAP-Ed and EFNEP as proposed would have created potential problems while failing to measurably improve either program:

  • Taking SNAP out of SNAP-Ed—Naming NIFA, rather than FNS as the administering agency for SNAP-Ed, would decouple the program from SNAP and other FNS low-income nutrition education programs. At the federal level and through regional offices, FNS coordinates numerous nutrition education initiatives such as SNAP-Ed, Team Nutrition, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Moving SNAP-Ed to NIFA, a research focused sub-agency, would create inefficiencies, not improve coordination.
  • Shifting Administrative Responsibilities to Land Grand UniversitiesGiving LGUs primary administrative responsibility for SNAP-Ed is also problematic. LGUs are one of several important agencies that administer SNAP-Ed; health departments and community-based nonprofits also administer the program. If LGUs were solely responsible for administering SNAP-Ed funds, they could choose not to share funds with other agencies, impacting the diversity and reach of organizations that implement the program.

Even if LGUs were to share funding, sub-contracting would be difficult; LGUs typically do not have contract managers the way state social services and health departments do. Many LGUs would need to create new administrative systems to manage SNAP-Ed, though this infrastructure already exists in other state agencies. And, realistically, LGUs would have trouble spending less than 10% of grant funds on administration, as the bill required.

  • Altering SNAP-Ed’s Funding Formula—R. 2 did maintain mandatory funding for the proposed, combined program, but too abruptly changed how states provide SNAP-Ed. The proposed changes to the funding formula could leave many struggling to provide public health services. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act established a stepped-down formula that considers a state’s funding history and incrementally introduces pro rata distribution based on its current SNAP population.[9] A sudden shift that considers only current SNAP participation would hurt states with a strong record of matching federal funds, as well as less-populated states. Changes to SNAP-Ed funding, when paired with recent cuts to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grants for diet-related disease control, would leave some states reeling with very little funding for nutrition education and obesity prevention.

Nutrition Education Recommendations for the 2018 Farm Bill

Nutrition education helps to prevent obesity and encourages individuals to eat healthy foods American farmers grow.[10] The 2018 Farm Bill should ensure not only that these programs receive adequate funding, but that they are structured to succeed. The Senate bill should:

  • Preserve SNAP-Ed and EFNEP’s Strengths—Combining SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, as the House Bill proposed, may be politically inevitable. Whatever form farm bill nutrition education takes should maintain the funding and flexibility of SNAP-Ed and the efficacy and peer-education emphasis of EFNEP.

With SNAP-Ed, state agencies receive more than $414 million a year to contract with land grant universities, local health departments, and community-based organizations.[11] These groups empower people to eat well through social marketing, direct education, and policy, systems, and environment changes consistent with current public health practices.

EFNEP, though funded at only $67 million a year, has a great return on investment; for every $1 spent, EFNEP saves $10 in future health care costs.[12] EFNEP also has the advantage of hiring peer educators.[13] The program not only provides low-income community members with jobs, but its instructors understand the challenges and strengths of the communities in which they work.

  • Maintain FNS as the SNAP-Ed Administrator—FNS’s structure ensures that people can access and afford nutrition assistance programs, driving demand for nutritious foods through nutrition education. FNS should consult with NIFA on program administration and maintain control of SNAP-Ed.
  • Gradually Adjust SNAP-Ed Funding Based on States’ SNAP Population—Currently, USDA allocates 50% of a state’s funding based on its SNAP population, and 50% based on historical match.[14] Instead of immediately altering states’ funding, USDA should adjust funding by 10% each year until 100% of funding is based on SNAP populations. This will allow states to better plan for the program going forward.

 

[1] 7 U.S.C. §§ 2011 et seq.; §§ 2036a et seq.; §§ 3175 et seq.

[2] See e.g. Ed Bolen et al., House Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill Would Increase Food Insecurity and Hardship, Center on Budget & Pol’y Priorities (April 25, 2018), https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/house-agriculture-committees-farm-bill-would-increase-food-insecurity-and.

[3] Isobel Contento, Nutrition Education: Linking Research, Theory and Practice (3rd ed., Jones & Bartlett 2015).

[4] Julia McCarthy, Claire Uno, Pam Koch, & Isobel Contento, Empowered Eaters: A Road Map for Stronger New York State Nutrition Education Policies and Programs, 31 (Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Educ. & Pol’y, Program in Nutrition at Tchr. College, Columbia U. 2018), http://www.tc.columbia.edu/media/media-library-2014/centers/tisch-center/Empowered-Eaters-STATE-FINAL.pdf.

[5] 7 U.S.C. §§ 2036a et seq.

[6] 7 U.S.C. §§ 612c et seq.

[7] 7 C.F.R. §§ 1291 et seq.

[8] McCarthy, supra note 4.

[9] Pub. L. 111-296 § 241(d) codified in 7 U.S.C. § 2036a(d)(2).

[10] See e.g. M. Vine et al. Expanding the Role of Primary Care in the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity: A Review of Clinic and Community-Based Recommendations and Interventions, J. Obesity (2013);

  1. Prelip et al., Evaluation of a School-Based Multicomponent Nutrition Education Program to Improve Young Children’s Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, 44(4) J. Nutrition Educ. & Behav. 310-318 (2012).

[11] U.S. Dep’t Agric., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Budget Allocation for Fiscal Year 1992 to 2017 (2017), available at https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/snap/Guidance/SNAP-EdBudgetAllocationFY1992-2017.pdf.

[12] U.S. Dep’t Agric., Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) FY 2018 Request for Applications, (Aug. 8, 2018), available at https://nifa.usda.gov/sites/default/files/resources/FY18-EFNEP-Modification-882017.pdf; Jamie Dollahite et al., An Economic Evaluation of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, 40 J. Nutrition Educ. & Behav. 134-143 (2008).

[13] 7 U.S.C. § 3175(c).

[14] 7 U.S.C. § 2036a(d)(2).

 

Julia McCarthy is a Senior Nutrition Policy Associate at CSPI, focusing on healthy retail policies. Prior to joining CSPI, she was a policy analyst at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy. McCarthy has worked as a legal fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group. She attended Georgetown University and has a law degree from New York University where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar.

Consume This! Hop To It

I found the following blog post about researching the history of hops, originally posted on the Consumers & Consumption blog, fascinating.

-Diana

 

by Jennifer Jordan

I have a stack of library books to my left, and in front of me is a hard drive full of documents and reading notes, and the powerful (if also problematic) search engine that’s easy to take for granted. I am in the middle of writing a book about hops, whose history illuminates labor relations, racial and ethnic formations, gender and family structures, ecologies, riverways, trade routes, and changing tastes and landscapes. Because all of my research subjects were long ago laid in their graves or cremated on their pyres (my time period is roughly the 12th century to the early 20th), I look for traces of their thoughts and actions, tastes and habits in vast quantities of library books, digitized archives, oral histories, photographs and maps, handwritten ledgers and old newspapers, and other sources of varying degrees of inscrutability. Once in a while I’ll venture out to talk to a farmer or brewer, grateful for all-wheel drive as I wind my way down ever-narrower and icier country roads to one of Wisconsin’s new hop yards.

Jordan2

But more often I’m poring over texts both digital and analog. One of the most powerful tools I use is Google Books—the ability to electronically search so many full text documents is quite remarkable for someone who started her writing life with a typewriter and a card catalog. Even when the search only yields a snippet of a page, I can then order the actual book through interlibrary loan. In other cases the whole book unfolds before me on the screen, with the relevant pages so helpfully illuminated. The ability to thoroughly search within the bodies of obscure agricultural manuals, city registries, and decades-old ethnographic surveys with a couple of keystrokes radically alters the process of this kind of research. Here, for example, I followed a lead from another source that had suggested a man named “Kiewert” might have been a Milwaukee hop dealer–and there he is.

Jordan3

The ease of access to so much of this material, however, can mean that I’m sometimes startled to discover that really valuable sources are deeply analog. My university library happens to hold the Blatz and Pabst brewery papers in its archive, so just steps away from my office I can descend into archival reverie (and sometimes drudgery). The leather binding rots all over my hands with a stinging dust, as the archivist slides a pillow underneath the enormous book to take the pressure off its 150-year-old spine. I search through these ledgers, page by page, to find out where Blatz and Pabst and others were buying their hops. It turns out, not surprisingly, that they were buying almost entirely from dealers rather than farmers. Here Kiewert appears in real life (if also with a slightly different spelling), but now I also know where his building was, and where he lived.

Jordan4

The combination of Google Books and old ledgers helped me realize the centrality of hop dealers to both the production and consumption of beer in the 19th century (and far beyond Wisconsin). According to the census searches I’ve done so far, they are all white men, some of whom started out as hop farmers themselves, and many of whom became prosperous traders in other people’s hops. These dealers command time and space with railways, telegraph wires, and the well-packed hop bales piled into train cars, horse-drawn carts, schooners and later steam ships, speeding to the marketplace that promises the best prices. Sometimes there was a glut, and the hops would languish in rural barns (one farmer lost thousands of pounds of dried hops when his barn burned down) or urban warehouses in Milwaukee or lower Manhattan or Liverpool. This was a brisk international trade, made possible by the same smoothing out of uneven land with railroad tracks that William Cronon describes in the rise of Chicago to a metropolis. That trade, in turn, relied on tens of thousands of children, women, and men picking hops in the brief window of ripeness in August and early September.

As I move through these documents, both physical and virtual, individual personalities and biographies emerge for both Wisconsin and California (14th century Germany is a whole other ballgame). I have a growing database of hop farmers and hop dealers—and a very scanty collection of the names of hop pickers, despite the fact that they vastly outnumbered the dealers and farmers. Before mechanized harvesters appeared in the early 20th century, the hop harvest required a sudden and massive influx of laborers to pick the hops by hand. In Wisconsin in the hop boom of the 1860s, this labor force consisted largely of young white women. In California, in the second half of the 19th century, hop pickers reflected the broader racialized, classed, and gendered labor pool in the state. Depending on the time and place, the quickly ripening hops were picked by Chinese men, Japanese men, Native American families, and white families. Despite their greater number, the people who swiftly harvested these sticky, perishable blossoms have, so far, appeared less frequently in search engines and the holdings of historical societies than the property owners. That said, clues do emerge here and there. Annie Burke (1876-1960), for example, was a Makahmo-speaking Pomo basket weaver, who also picked hops in her younger years in Hopland, California.[i] Here is a picture of her gravestone, with abalone shells laid before it, and a photograph of Annie with several baskets: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/123821853 There is also John Rooney (1844-1917), who was born in Ireland, but moved to Wisconsin with his family as a child. He was a hop picker and later a hop farmer, and also had two sisters (probably Margaret and Ann, the oldest) who picked hops in Loganville, Wisconsin during the Civil War.[ii] Digitized historical census data has proven extremely useful in piecing together the shapes and paths of families, including the wives and daughters performing unpaid labor for and with the hop farmers, as well as the paid hop harvesters, and the smaller number of people hired to string the hops as they start to wind up their poles.

Jordan5

The hop is an odd consumable. It has very little value outside of beer-making, at least today. Only edible as a young shoot, it was enjoyed in that form by many Romans, long before the hop blossom had found its way into brew kettles. Only in the 9th century is there more convincing archaeological and archival evidence associating hops with brewing. By the 19th century, just about any commercial brewing in the US and Europe would have used some quantity of hops. If you are not a beer drinker, chances are pretty good that hops play no role in your life. If you are a beer drinker, hops are absolutely essential to the flavor you experience, whether you are drinking a watery American lager, a citrusy IPA, or a barrel-aged imperial stout. In other words, hops have long been grown for one use only—beer, where they lend bitterness and a range of aromas (depending in part on the variety and quantity of hop), as well as antimicrobial properties. The tastes of beer drinkers, whether in the 12th century, 19th century, or today, have translated into specific types of agricultural landscapes and labor patterns. Hops have long, hungry root systems that seek out deep, alluvial soils when they grow wild, as they have done for millennia across Europe, Asia, and North America. Cultivated hops are also often planted in river plains, capturing the nutrients those rivers have laid down over millennia of flowing water and seasonal flooding. The tending of these plants, and the satisfying of the thirsts of legions of beer drinkers, leaves its mark unevenly and sometimes inscrutably in landscapes and archives alike.

 

[i] Herbert W. Luthin, ed. Surviving Through the Days: A California Indian Reader: Translations of Native California Stories and Songs. Berkeley: UC Press, 2002, p. 313.

[ii] John Rooney, in Harry Ellsworth Cole, A Standard History of Sauk County, Wisconsin, Volume 1. Sauk County, Wisconsin: Lewis Publishing Company, 1918, pp 96-97.

 

Jennifer Jordan is professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of Structures of Memory: Understanding Urban Change in Berlin and Beyondand Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods.

UCLA Tech Talk: The Future of Food with Prof. Michael Roberts and Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown

Join UCLA Tech on May 24th for the next UCLA Tech Talk, where Michael Roberts, Executive Director of the Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at UCLA School of Law, will sit down to discuss the future of food with Ethan Brown, Founder & CEO of Beyond Meat, creators of The Beyond Burger, the first plant-based meat to be sold alongside beef, poultry, and pork in the meat section of the grocery store.

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Program begins at 7:00 p.m.

 

RSVP is required for admission. Capacity is very limited. 

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ucla-tech-talk-the-future-of-food-with-prof-michael-roberts-and-beyond-meat-ceo-ethan-brown-tickets-46128962970

Learn more about UCLA’s Resnick Program for Food Law by clicking here. To learn more about Beyond Meat and The Beyond Burger, please visit www.beyondmeat.com.

This event will be live streamed on UCLA Tech’s Twitter page at 7:05pm @UCLAtech

Farm Bill Law Enterprise Spends Day Lobbying for a Better Farm Bill on Capitol Hill

Today, Farm Bill Law Enterprise members–including Allison Korn, the Assistant Dean for Experiential Education at UCLA Law and the Director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic, Beth Kent, a UCLA Law student, and Emilie Aguirre, a former academic fellow at the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy and a doctoral student at Harvard Business School–spent the day on Capitol Hill, advocating for a better farm bill and opposing the House farm bill.  See below for pictures of Dean Korn and Beth Kent, and the whole group together.  We look forward to hearing from the participants when they return!

The Farm Bill Law Enterprise (FBLE) is a novel partnership between eight law school programs that came together under the leadership of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic to substantively engage with the farm bill and identify viable steps toward reform.  In addition to Harvard, FBLE members include: UCLA School of Law Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy; Duke Law School Environmental Law & Policy Clinic; Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative and Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic; Harvard Law School Health Law and Policy Clinic; Pace University Elizabeth Haub School of Law Food Law Initiative; Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems; and Yale Law School Environmental Protection Clinic.

In addition to members programs, FBLE recruited law students from across the country to work on the project. In 2016, the newly-formed FBLE dove into collaborative research. Together, faculty and students analyzed each of the farm bill’s components and developed shared goals for a farm bill that meets the long-term needs of our society. These goals include a reliable and nutritious food supply, an honest living for farmers, a healthy environment, and a strong safety net against hunger.

At the end of March 2018, FBLE released three reports making recommendations for how the next farm bill can begin to meet those goals by maintaining key programs that work, adding new programs, and redistributing funding in ways that are better for health, the environment and justice.

Each report focuses on a specific theme: Diversified Agricultural Economies; Food Access, Nutrition and Public Health; and Productivity and Risk Management.

The reports can be found at  www.FarmBillLaw.org.

 

Reefer Madness

by Diana Winters

I just read two very interesting articles, both arguing that states and the federal government have to do more to regulate marijuana products as more and more states move to legalization. In Marijuana Edibles and “Gummy Bears,” published this month in the Buffalo Law Review, Paul J. Larkin, Jr. looks closely at marijuana edibles, discussing their retail distribution, potential harms, and regulatory options available to local, state, and federal governments. The solution Larkin advocates is compelling—that the FDA declare foods with THC as adulterated, and either seize such products or require edibles to comply with standards that reduce the risk that children would ingest the product.

In “High” Standards: The Wave of Marijuana Legalization Sweeping America Conveniently Ignores the Hidden Risks, forthcoming in the Ohio State Law Journal, Steve P. Calandrillo and Katelyn J. Fulton also focus on marijuana edibles and argue that these products pose special risks to the population. The authors make certain specific recommendations, including the increased study of edibles, a refinement of edible labels, a ban on edibles that resemble children’s candy, and more.

Beyond the specific issues of marijuana regulation, these articles are fascinating in regards to the federalism issues they present, especially in this time of some confusion about the federal government’s stance towards the state legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. I better go eat some “brownies” and try to figure it all out…

State regulation and the precautionary principle – comments open

Check out this interesting article published in the New York Times’ Sunday Review yesterday.  It discusses the role of the states in regulating a class of chemicals called PFAS chemicals, which include PFOA and PFOS.  Washington State recently banned firefighting foam and food packaging containing the entire class of chemicals even without definitive research showing the effect of all of these chemicals on the human body.  The article notes federal inaction on these chemicals and supports Washington State’s approach as a way to avoid scattershot regulation that leads to the substitution of other harmful chemicals for those banned.

The tension between regulating based on the precautionary principle and regulating only after all of the evidence is one we see often in the food arena.  Thoughts?

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