The Food Standards Agency recently announced that it has stopped products leaving sites run by Russell Hume, a major meat and poultry processing business, following "instances of serious non-compliance with food hygiene regulations". It has also required Russell Hume to withdraw existing products from the market. Incidents such as these raise a number of questions for food businesses and consumers about the safety and provenance of the food that they are buying.
The Supreme Court recently upheld the appellate court's opinion that Section 17(1) of the Act on Medicinal Products requires the labelling of certain particulars in the case of eventual outer packaging, but does not require the outer packaging of medicinal products. This interpretation conforms with Article 54 of EU Directive 2001/83/EC, which provides that certain particulars must appear on the outer packaging of medicinal products or, where there is no outer packaging, on the immediate packaging.
The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock recently published the Food Codex Energy Drinks Communique 2017/4 in the Official Gazette. The communique introduces significant amendments to the market supply, advertising, labelling and sale of energy drinks, the most important of which prohibits the sale of energy drinks to individuals under the age of 18. Business operators must comply with the new communique no later than December 31 2017.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case where the cost to repair a defective product far exceeded the value of the goods in question. In its decision, the court determined that existing Austrian law on warranty claims can (and must) be construed in line with European Court of Justice case law on the EU Consumer Sales Directive. While ending an academic debate, the decision is bound to spark disputes between sellers of defective products and their counterparts.
Specific provisions on product liability were first introduced into Egyptian law in 1999 as part of the revised Commercial Transaction Law. The Consumer Protection Law further extended the Egyptian product liability regime. Together with the general provisions on contractual and tortious liability within the Civil Code, the Commercial Transaction Law and the Consumer Protection Law form the Egyptian liability regime for manufacturers, traders, distributors and service providers.
The process for exporting organic produce into China has been made much easier following the March 2014 signing of the Australia-China Organic Trade Access Agreement. The agreement is predicted to boost Australia's organic and biodynamic industry by up to A$100 million per year, significantly improve the organic export process and help Australian food producers to meet demand for these premium products.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently announced the latest penalties imposed on companies in 2014 for failure to report potential product defects. The significant increase in penalties levied against companies over the past few years shows that the commission is intent on staking its claim as a serious enforcement agency.
The Eleventh Circuit's recent decision in In re Engle Cases highlights the frustrations that many defendants face in litigating mass tort claims against plaintiff law firms which file hundreds of cases without investigating or properly pleading their cases. Siding with the defendants, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision to dismiss 750 lawsuits that had been filed with egregious defects.
California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recently released a pre-regulatory proposal to revise its longstanding regulations governing "clear and reasonable warnings". The proposal met with substantial opposition from a broad coalition of businesses and, as a result, OEHHA is expected to unveil a new slimmed-down version later this autumn.
Following years of passionate public debate and some recent controversy, the Australian and New Zealand food regulation ministers have agreed to the formal implementation of the front-of-pack health star rating (HSR) system. The decision arose out of a legislative and governance forum on food regulation. While a decision to proceed with the HSR system roll-out has been agreed, changes have been made to the original plans.
California's Department of Toxic Substances Control recently released its draft Priority Product Three-Year Work Plan, identifying new consumer product categories that may be the focus of the state's Green Chemistry Initiative. The innovative law requires product manufacturers to examine whether they can replace existing chemical ingredients with alternatives that are deemed safer for consumers and the environment.
A recent Court of Appeal case serves as a useful reminder to suppliers of the risks involved if they pass on product information provided by a third party to consumers without any form of disclaimer. A disclaimer must be used if the supplier is to avoid assuming a duty of care in relation to any misrepresentations that the information contains.
In Actos a Louisiana court recently ordered a drug manufacturer to pay $6 billion in punitive damages. An adverse ruling regarding spoliation of evidence likely played an important role in the verdict. Actos does not alter the protection that broad litigation holds provide to manufacturers in product liability litigation. However, the ruling starkly exposes the under-appreciated risk of maintaining a litigation hold for years.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently promulgated two much-anticipated draft guidance documents on the use of social media to present information about prescription drugs and medical devices. The draft guidance documents represent the FDA's latest attempt to provide direction for drug and device manufacturers concerning how and when they may use social media.
The Food and Drug Administration recently launched openFDA, a programme designed to improve access to publicly available data, beginning with adverse event reports. While greater accessibility to adverse event reports has industry benefits, it may also put drug manufacturers at greater litigation risk. This potential exposure highlights the need to prepare adverse event reports with an eye towards avoiding admissions on causality.
In the battle over consumer spending, product differentiation through labelling and marketing can make a significant difference in sales. However, food labelling and marketing is a minefield of regulation. Therefore, food businesses must take care when making food claims to ensure that they meet any prescriptive compositional and disclosure requirements, are accurate and can be substantiated if ever challenged.
Despite the recent passage of a genetically engineered (GE) food-labelling law in Vermont, and similar bills appearing in legislatures in other states, proponents of labelling have again failed to pass such a law in California. The latest such initiative, SB 1381 (Evans), recently failed on the Senate floor; the defeat follows on the heels of the failure of Proposition 37 in 2012.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has settled an unprecedented proceeding against Craig Zucker, the former chief executive of Buckyballs manufacturer Maxfield and Oberton Holdings, LLC. Although the events leading to the settlement raise more questions than they answer, individuals who find themselves in a similar situation can point to the saga as setting a low bar for settlement.
A landmark High Court ruling has clarified the territorial application of the Consumer Protection Act. The decision confirms that UK manufacturers are not liable under the act for injuries sustained outside the United Kingdom, although a query still exists as to whether it extends to injuries sustained within the European Economic Area.
The Fourth Circuit recently ruled that a manufacturer could not hide behind a veil of secrecy, even after successfully enjoining the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from publishing an inaccurate report of harm. In light of this opinion, manufacturers must tread carefully if the CPSC attempts to publish a suspect report that could unfairly harm the manufacturer's reputation.