Lawyers within the firm are widely recognised as experts in matters relating to the national, EU and international regulation of food law and food safety. We have worked on a wide range of issues related to food safety, novel foods, additives, packaging, food contact materials, plant health, maximum residue levels of pesticides in foodstuffs, plant protection products, nutrition and health claims, labelling and traceability, regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), food hygiene and veterinary regulation, and advising Governments and private parties on EU and international regulatory frameworks, including trade-related aspects of food regulation.
Our lawyers have considerable experience in relation to the WTO rules and procedures under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). The firm is also familiar with the negotiation, adoption and use of international standards such as those of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the ones set by the Office of Epizootics and the International Plant Protection Convention.
In particular, with respect to national and EU regulation of food and food safety, we have, inter alia:
- Advised on several issues related to EU labelling requirements, including issues related to compliance with nutrition and health claims legislation, nutrition labelling, ingredients list, addition of vitamins and minerals or other substances to food, novel foods and allergens labelling;
- Prepared two studies for the European Commission on the conformity of the national legislation adopted by the applicant countries for accession to the EU (Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) as regards transposition of the acquis communautaire on food;
- Made assessments of specific health and nutrition claims under EU and national law;
- Advised on the use of plant protection products on fruit and vegetables;
- Advised on data access and data sharing agreements in relation to active substances in plant protection products;
- Advised on the implementation of traceability systems, as well as on national rules implementing traceability and free movement consequences;
- Advised on aspects related to trade in GMOs (i.e., the authorisation of GMOs, trade into and out of the EU, the labelling of food ingredients derived from GMOs, and WTO aspects of GMOs regulation); and
- Advised the Ministry of Agriculture of a country in Northern Europe on the approximation of its phytosanitary law to EU and WTO rules.
With regard to the international regulation of food and food safety, we have:
- Analysed so-called ‘fat taxes’ and other fiscal schemes targeted at specific food products or ingredients, and assessed their compatibility with the relevant national, regional and WTO legislative frameworks; and
- Advised a country in Southeast Asia on the impact of its FTA negotiations with the EU, with the view of maximising the benefits of the FTA in relation to the application of EU SPS and TBT requirements (including REACH requirements and the FLEGT scheme) to the country’s key exports (food and industrial products);
- Provided consulting services on the strengthening of the agricultural food safety component of the agriculture / food policy of CARICOM Member States;
- Prepared a study for the World Bank on the interaction between the processes of countries’ domestic standardisation and technical regulation (including the harmonisation of their systems to the international ones) with the rules and principles of the WTO SPS and TBT Agreements;
- Prepared a case study for the ITC on “Vietnam’s Fisheries Exports to the EC - Public - Private Collaboration to Address Non-Tariff Measures”, built on the success of the export performance of Vietnamese food products in highly regulated markets (such as the EU);
- Led and worked with a team of lawyers and scientific experts in charge of analysing the WTO consistency, under the GATT and the SPS Agreement, of certain European countries’ measures prohibiting the importation and marketability of kava and kava-based products from the Pacific islands;
- Prepared a study for the UK’s DFID on the legal aspects of non-governmental standards (i.e., private standards) and standards-setting bodies within the context of the WTO;
- Advised the Ministry of Economy of a country in Eastern Europe on aspects of TBT regulation and intellectual property rights, particularly the relationship between trademarks and geographical indications and their protection under domestic law for purposes of WTO accession negotiations;
- Advised several governments on how to adequately set up SPS and TBT transparency instruments (i.e., enquiry points and notification authorities);
- Advised ACP countries on issues of SPS regulation and food safety traceability under WTO and EU law, including suggestions for the conclusion of bilateral or plurilateral equivalency agreements;
- Advised a country in South America and banana exporters on how to evaluate and launch a challenge in dispute before the WTO relating to SPS measures; and
- Advised a country in Europe on the implementation of its TBT obligations.
FratiniVergano also circulates a fortnightly publication, entitled Trade Perspectives©, which, in addition to updating readers on general international trade developments, includes at least one article related to food law or food safety in each issue. A dedicated index of these articles can be found here: Trade Perspectives: Index of Food Law and Safety Articles.