Friday, March 29, 2019

New Online Course: Food Regulation in China

Online Graduate Course:
Food Laws and Regulations in China

Updated curriculum for summer 2019




Enroll Now
This course is designed to provide students with an overview of various aspects of food law in China. Taught with an IFLR lead instructor along with various China food law experts from around the world, this redesigned course has been updated to reflect the latest laws and regulations and touches on emerging issues.

Topics include: cultural, socio-economic differences compared to other countries/regions; organization of China's food laws, delegation of risk assessment and risk management roles and responsibilities in the Government of China; cross border and e-commerce issues; food labeling and claims permitted; novel food approval; genetic modification and; food additives and contaminants. Hot topics such as food safety, food fraud, and import-exportissues such as tariffs and liabilities toward consumers will also be addressed.

This course will include various weekly readings, lectures, assignments, discussions with experts, and three quizzes. There will not be a final exam.

Learn more at
Contact for assistance.

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Institute for Food Laws and Regulations
474 S Shaw Lane, Suite 3385
Michigan State University
East LansingMI  48824

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

New Online Course: Global Regulation of Food Contact Substances and Packaging

The course starts in January 2019.  More information is available at 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Give us our chicken but hold the antibiotics

By Abhijit Ghosh

In a time of national division, Americans remain unified on their love for chicken. As the No. 1 source of protein consumed by Americans, chicken commanded $90 billion in 2016 consumer spending.

The use of antibiotics in feed and agricultural water began in the 1950s. While pharmaceuticals and chicken farmers have harvested financial windfalls and cost savings respectively, consumers are facing an emerging public health crisis. Behind the curtain of murky marketing, uncooked chicken may have elements of bacterial resistance rising from the industry’s unchecked antibiotic usage. By changing their spending habits and demanding state legislation, consumers are reshaping industry practice.

In 1950, American Cyanamid, a pharmaceutical, stumbled on to a finding where the use of Aureomycin, an antibiotic, played a key role in fattening chicken. Word spread across the industry and the use of antibiotics to spike livestock feed and agricultural water mushroomed. While farmers have been able to fatten birds quickly, pharmaceuticals have been fattening their wallets. According to Consumers Reports, 80 percent of antibiotics sold today are used for meat and poultry production. Of the 27 million pounds of antibiotics sold in 2014, livestock operations used 20 million.

Public health crisis
The purpose of antibiotics is clear: to kill potentially harmful bacteria. Repeated use and overuse trigger bacteria to mutate in order to gain resistance to the effects of any particular antibiotic. With their large enclosed spaces, chicken farms provide the perfect nidus for antibiotic resistance. Under the FDA’s blind eye, those bacteria-infested chicken then follow supply chain to grocery stores and kitchen counters. According to the CDC, 23,000 people die from microbes resistant to antibiotics. The Institute of Medicine concluded in a 1988 report that “a link can be demonstrated between the use of antibiotics in food animals, the development of resistant microorganisms in those animals, and the zoonotic spread of pathogens to humans.”

The FDA’s mission is to protect the public’s health and keep the food system secure. Under the FDA’s Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Sects. 301-399f), the FDA must approve a new animal drug before it goes to market. Following the 1950 finding and rapid application, the poultry industry quickly obtained FDA approval. To this day, the approval stands. Due to aggressive lobbying of pharmaceutical and chicken farmers, Congress has been successful in creating only voluntary requirements to curtail antibiotic usage for growth purposes, while maintaining an exception for medicinal usage in chicken farms.

Nonprofit advocacy organizations including the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) attempted to push the FDA into action by going into litigation focused on 21 U.S.C. § 360b(e)(1). Prior to issuing the voluntary guidelines, the FDA called for hearings regarding the public health crisis but never held the hearings. NRDC argued that the cited rule above compelled the FDA to actually hold the hearings. On appeal, the Second Circuit sided with the FDA’s decision not to withdraw the approval.

In 2014, tests from Consumer Reports revealed that 97 percent of chicken breasts available for sale at grocery stores nationwide contained bacteria that are potentially harmful for human consumption. Such jarring statistics compelled consumers to demand changes at the state level. Of the eight states that had proposed legislation to curtail antibiotics usage in chicken farms only California passed a law, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Perdue has begun to change its business practice. Perdue showed that it was feasible to maintain production while completely phasing out antibiotics. Motivated by stagnant sales, fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, and Subway issued statements that they will stop serving chicken processed with antibiotics.

With the movement towards healthier eating, Americans’ love for chicken will only grow. Today, however, consumers don’t want just any chicken, they want antibiotic-free chicken. Consumers are driving the demand for antibiotic free chicken. Fast food companies are listening and encouraging chicken farms to do the same. There is a false assumption that chicken grown without antibiotics would be cost prohibitive. As evidenced by its increasing market share, Perdue has taken the lead showing it is indeed possible to meet consumer demands without using antibiotics. The question is will other chicken farmers follow suit?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Food Regulation, 2nd edition, is now available!

The second edition of Food Regulation is now available.  It contains over 25 percent new material, particularly a rewritten import law chapter and revisions related to food safety regulation, health claims, and food defense. The text provides an in-depth discussion of the federal statutes, regulations, and agencies involved in food regulation. After an introduction to the history of food regulation, it covers current food regulations, inspection and enforcement, international law, and more. 

With explanation of the policies and food science behind the law, the text is designed for both food scientists and lawyers. Yet the book remains accessible to students and professionals alike. This is an excellent text for food science and food law and a practical reference for food industry professionals, consultants, and others. 

I hope you find it appetizing. If you would like more information, the Table of Contents is available here.  A copy of Chapter One is available here.  
To order from the publisher, click here. 
To order from Amazon, click here
To order the iBook, click here

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

MSU's world of food has plenty to offer

By Michaela Oldfield / Global Food Law Fellow

You may have noticed it’s been a while since my last post. Well, my fellowship with the Institute for Food Laws & Regulations is wrapping up, so I’ve been occupied with finishing journal articles and frankly not quite sure what to write for a final post.

Except I don’t want to never post again and leave people thinking, “Did she move to Iceland or Peru or somewhere?” (No, those are just places I would like to visit some day)

Michaela Oldfield at the MSU summer food law seminar.
I spent some time pondering whether to write about a recent food law issue and act like nothing is changing – for instance, I could write something explaining the possible importance and very gnarly knot of the FDA deciding to redefine healthy - or I considered trying to give some current and future food law students advice about how to build a food law career.

Or, and this is what I’ve decided to do, I can write a bit about food law as part of the larger educational opportunities at Michigan State University. Because even though I’m looking forward to the next step of my career, I want others to recognize and take advantage of the amazing resources at MSU.

My original purpose with this blog has been to try to demonstrate to current and potential students how lawyers might analyze a food policy issue. I wanted to give readers an idea of what it means to “think like a lawyer” so that they could see what they would be getting into if they pursued a Certificate in International Food Law or a Master’s in Global Food Law.

I would also note there are a number of other online degrees that match up nicely with these programs, including a master’s degree in food safety or public health and perhaps even an MBA.

Of course, I’ve strayed from my legal analyses because I’m not only a lawyer. I’ve also studied sociology, geography, public policy, political science, behavioral economics, etc., as part of an interdisciplinary Ph.D. to understand the history and operations of our food and agriculture systems policies. It is hard for me to separate my policy-oriented thinking from precise legal analysis, because what I care about is the “so what” of the legal analysis for understanding the larger systems issues.

I chose MSU for my graduate studies because it’s a place I could study food law and policy from these numerous angles. I wanted to gain understanding of the variety of perspectives on how food systems operate and build skills for critically analyzing what is wrong with, and how to fix, our food systems. I consider this interdisciplinary thinking key to solving challenges such as public health and sustainability (among a potential litany of others) because no one discipline can fully understand things so complex as our food and agriculture systems and the societies in which they operate. 

Being on campus, I’ve also been able to connect with faculty across the university studying food systems from any number of angles – food science, food safety, nutrition, ag econ, international development, agrifood sociology, labeling and standards, regional food systems development, local food systems planning, entomology, crop and soil sciences, the list easily goes on and on. But I have known and/or worked with someone in each of these areas whose work I think is exciting and valuable. 

As the Global Food Law Fellow, I’ve been able to really dive into the nitty gritty of food law issues, including through writing this blog. Working with our students and planning the Food Law Seminar has been a rewarding experience that has given me new perspective on the regulatory complexities and challenges facing food companies. But everything I’ve learned has been informed by my interactions with other MSU researchers, and, I think, helped me develop a more nuanced understanding of these challenges. 

For anyone interested in food law or food systems, there really is an incredible abundance and diversity of researchers here who can broaden your perspective on the context in which food law operates. So while I’m sure many of you already know that MSU is a leader in Food Law, also remember it is a leader in many other food issues.

Which is all to say, when you discover you need expertise beyond food law, go explore some of the rest of what MSU has to offer.

Skál and chau!!!

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