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Food Law Firm News Archive

Welcome Food Law Firm Graduate Assistant, Satoko Kato

September 8, 2015

We are pleased to announce that our firm is sponsoring a graduate assistantship for the University of Arkansas School of Law’s LLM Program in Agricultural and Food Law. Jason Foscolo, Lauren Handel and Nicole Civita all are graduates of this terrific program. Please help us to welcome Satoko Kato who will be working with us while she pursues her LLM degree. Satoko has incredible experience as an attorney and a true passion for food law. We are thrilled to have her on the Food Law Firm team!

Here is Satoko’s bio:

Satoko Kato has more than ten years of experience working at a top global law firm in New York and Tokyo.  There, she represented multinational corporations in connection with securities offerings, public disclosure and compliance.  She also represented clients in investigations by the Department of Justice in alleged Sherman Act violations.

An omnivore enthusiastic of good food and drinks, she attended culinary school and interned at a commercial kitchen incubator where she became highly inspired by the energy of food entrepreneurs and the unique food and beverages they are bringing to the market.  In the course of communicating with food entrepreneurs, she felt that there is a market to be served in providing good legal counseling.  She aspires to channel her skills and experience into the food and beverage and agriculture industries.

Satoko earned her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and is an LL.M. candidate in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas.  She is excited to be working at Foscolo & Handel PLLC.

Nicole Civita, of Counsel to Foscolo & Handel PLLC

December 1, 2014

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-by Nicole Civita

Upon their arrival in the United States, my great-grandparents began farming a piece of land in what is now New York City’s borough of Queens. Over the course of my grandfather’s life, American agriculture – and the way we relate to food – changed dramatically. As a child, he snuck eggs from the chicken coop and ate them immediately, unwashed and raw. He chased his escaped hogs down Metropolitan Avenue. He woke before the sun to tend a bevy of vegetable crops and fruit trees. As an adult, he continued to cultivate a small patch of land in our backyard, growing the most succulent tomatoes and plentiful pole beans I’ve ever encountered. In his final years, when his bones were too creaky for gardening, he grumbled loudly and often about the endless acres of soybeans surrounding his retirement village: “What’s all this for? And how are we supposed to feed ourselves?”

As a food lawyer, I ask those same questions – loudly and often. I consider it my calling to work on behalf of the intrepid individuals who are trying to change the face of modern farming, fix food, and nourish the next generations.

I am fortunate to be on the faculty of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law, where I get to track the latest developments in food law and policy, analyze how the law shapes our food system, and push for a more equitable, just, and sustainable food future.  As the Director of the University of Arkansas’s newly formed Food Resiliency Initiative, I facilitate interdisciplinary analysis of food system challenges to assure that healthy, adequate food is available and accessible to all – and that farmers and food producers can do well by doing good. I also work with experts in diverse fields to propose full-scope, actionable policy solutions that support responsible, resilient, and just agrifood systems – those that are able to withstand both short term disruptions like market fluctuations and acute natural disasters, as well as long term challenges like climate change, population growth, biodiversity loss, and chronic disease. My work puts me right at the intersections between food and public health, conservation, disaster-preparedness, business and economics, land tenure, fair labor standards, community development and planning, sovereignty, and social justice.  It’s a gratifying place to work.

Today, I am excited to announce that I will be putting my food systems expertise into practice. By working of counsel with Foscolo & Handel PLLC, I look forward to providing concrete and strategic support to stakeholders throughout the food chain. I am eager to help my clients understand the network of legal authorities that frame their farming operations and food businesses. I offer a deep understanding of the individual and systemic challenges that farmers and food businesses face and aim to help my clients explore innovative, efficient solutions.

I couldn’t ask for better colleagues in this effort. Jason, Lauren, and Michele bring a dynamic balance of creativity and exactitude to the practice of law. I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with them and contribute to their work, which is both grounded and ground-breaking. Together, we can help you navigate the legal requirements and minimize the risks inherent in the important and delicious work of putting food on the table.

For legal services, reach me at: nicole@foodlawfirm.com / 917-572-8073

For information about the Food Recovery Project, Food Resiliency Initiative, or my academic work: nmcivita@uark.edu / 479-575-2456.

Michele Simon Joins the Food Law Firm Team

September 8, 2014

Today, we are proud to announce that attorney and public health advocate Michele Simon is joining the firm in an of counsel capacity. Michele’s practice will focus on food and alcoholic beverage labeling and marketing compliance. Michele brings more to the firm than just her comprehensive knowledge of marketing regulations. As someone with great experience identifying the problems in food industry marketing tactics, she brings integrity and a unique perspective to help clients who want to do better.

by Michele Simon

Over the past 18 years as a lawyer and public health advocate, I have scrutinized the ways that food companies use misleading or illegal marketing to unfairly influence consumers. I will continue to call out these deceptive practices as long as the industry continues to use them.

rsz_micheleheadFortunately, the food industry is changing. More companies are entering the marketplace with healthier options that are less processed and contain higher quality ingredients. These companies lead with their values and seek more meaningful connections with their customers. This new breed of food producer, which places integrity over profit, is vital to help shift the marketplace.

One obstacle to success is regulation. Any new company has to abide by the rules to succeed. Marketing is the most important tool these companies have because it enables them to distinguish their products from those of Big Food. Most of the marketing terms that such companies want to use, such as organic, gluten-free, or high fiber, are strictly regulated. Others, such as non-GMO, may soon be regulated, and require a keen eye to avoid greenwashing or other deceptions.

Making sure a food or beverage meets with federal and state legal requirements is just the first step. These days, it’s entirely possible to meet the letter of the law but still get into other trouble. Food companies need to consider the potential risk of being targeted by advocacy organizations, class action attorneys, the competition, the media, and bloggers, all getting amplified by social media. Based on my years of advocacy experience, I can help companies avoid such scrutiny. My ongoing role as an advocate ensures that I will keep my finger on the pulse of new policies at the federal and state levels, as well as demands from advocacy groups and other key developments.

There is a compelling and urgent need for legal services for good food. After being immersed in marketing strategies and policy for almost two decades, the time is right for me to direct the benefit of my experience towards companies who want to do the right thing. In addition to my continuing work as a public health advocate, I am now offering legal guidance on food and beverage marketing. As a licensed attorney in California, I will begin taking and advising clients on:

  • Comprehensive label review for FDA, USDA, and TTB (alcohol) compliance
  • Compliance with the FTC Act and California consumer protection laws
  • Marketing claims review for legal compliance and beyond
  • Recommendations for reliable certifications such as organic and gluten free
  • Becoming eligible under USDA guidelines for federal programs such as school food
  • Compliance with emerging regulations such as menu labeling and revised Nutrition Facts
  • Compliance with industry self-regulatory standards such as the National Advertising Division
  • Rapid responses to competitor complaints to self-regulatory bodies
  • Rapid responses to attacks by advocacy groups, food bloggers, or media
  • Rapid responses to adverse legal action, such as FDA warning letters for marketing claims

I am excited to be collaborating with Foscolo & Handel PLLC on this important work. It’s an honor to work with Jason and Lauren, two talented lawyers who themselves have a tremendous amount of integrity, along with a healthy dose of passion and commitment to a better food system. I see this new direction as the private sector supplement to my public advocacy work and look forward to this new venture.

Please help me spread the word.

For legal services, reach me at: Michele@foodlawfirm.com / 510-465-0322

My advocacy work will remain at: www.eatdrinkpolitics.com / Michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com