Food & Beverage

The High Court has quashed decisions by the Food Standard Agencies in England, Wales and Scotland (“the FSAs”) that concluded that monk fruit decoctions are a novel food.  The Court ordered the FSAs to re-consider their position by assessing all of the evidence submitted to the FSAs on its own merits, rather than the FSAs’ previous approach of rigidly applying (non‑binding) European Union guidance.  The judgment is available here.  This case is the first of its kind in Great Britain and is relevant for individuals and companies considering whether or not their foods or food ingredients are novel under the GB novel food regime, which requires evidence of significant consumption of a food prior to 1 May 1997 to conclude the food is “non‑novel”, and not requiring a novel food approval. Continue Reading Food Standard Agencies in Great Britain unlawfully classified monk fruit as novel, High Court rules

A UK judge has decided that Odysea Ltd, an artisan food company, can use the word “raw” to describe its small-batch, minimally‑processed honey.  Judge Neville, of the First‑tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber), gave the decision on 26 February 2024.  The judgement is available here and opens with a classic reference to Winnie the Pooh:

  1. The things that make me different are the things that make me me”, said Piglet, who must have seen quite a bit of honey eaten over the years.  If he treated Pooh to some “raw honey”, what would be different about it?
  2. Plenty, says Odysea, who have sold thousands of jars of honey proudly labelled as “raw”: unlike ordinary honey, ours has not been heated above its natural temperature and has undergone far less processing, so is of better quality.  Describing one of Odysea’s raw honey products, the judges at the Great Taste Awards complimented the “subtle pine and fir flavours, the perfect level of sweetness, the hint of saltiness, the sheer sexiness of this honey”.
  3. Nothing, says Waltham Forest Trading Standards, who wants them to stop: all honey is raw because it has not been cooked, so it misleads consumers to suggest that yours is special.  Odysea has had to reprint its labels to say “artisan honey” instead.  The Tribunal must decide if that is right.

Continue Reading UK Judge Permits “Raw” Label for Honey

The relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland (ROI) came into sharp focus recently, as US President Joe Biden visited ROI.  Biden’s visit coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998 (GFA) which brought an end to 30 years of Troubles in Northern Ireland (NI).  The UK government will have welcomed the fact that President Biden described the Windsor Framework (WF) as one of two pillars (along with the GFA) which are key to future peace and prosperity in NI.  The WF is also fundamental to the recent improvement of the tripartite UK-EU-ROI relationship.

The Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) was part of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and sought to square the circle of respecting the GFA, whilst maintaining NI’s place in the UK Single Market. But the Unionist community in NI felt the NIP left NI being treated differently from the rest of the UK – a feeling which led to the 2022 suspension of the Stormont Assembly. The negotiation of the WF demonstrated a new and welcome willingness of the UK and the EU to negotiate mutually acceptable solutions to some of the problems created by Brexit (even if the WF has not (so far) achieved one of its objectives of re‑starting power-sharing at Stormont).

What has Changed under the WF?Continue Reading The Implications of the Windsor Framework

On the 27 October 2022, the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”) issued a preliminary ruling  regarding the definition of foods for special medical purposes (“FSMP”).  The CJEU held that for a food product to be classified as an FSMP, it must cover the increased or specific nutritional requirements caused by the disease.  It is not sufficient that the product counteracts the disease or alleviates its symptoms, as that would blur the lines between foods and medicinal products. 

1. Background to the Dispute

This ruling arose in the context of an action brought by Verband Sozialer Wettbewerb e.V. (“VSW”) against Orthomol pharmazeutische Vertriebs GmbH (“Orthomol”) regarding two Orthomol products classification as FSMPs.  This action was brought before the Landgericht Düsseldorf (Regional Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) at the first instance and was then appealed to the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf (Higher Regional Court, Düsseldorf, Germany) which then referred the case to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling. Continue Reading CJEU clarifies the Food for Special Medical Purposes Definition

On 1st August 2022, the Italian Competition Authority (“AGCM”) published its decision where it ruled that the NutriScore labelling must be discontinued in Italy because it deceives consumers.  The authority further held that products meant for the French market, where the NutriScore is allowed, and which are distributed also on the Italian market may keep the NutriScore labelling provided that this is sufficiently substantiated.    Continue Reading NutriScore Halted In Italy As Italian Competition Authority Deems It Misleading

In collaboration with Corporate Law Group, New Delhi, India 

On December 16, 2021, India proposed amendments to the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (the “BDA”) by introducing the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (the “Bill”).  The process to amend the BDA was undertaken in response to long-standing complaints by stakeholders in the Indian systems of medicine, seeds, and research sectors, as well as industry, that existing access and benefit-sharing (“ABS”) processes in relation to Indian biological resources are too burdensome.

The Bill has several objectives.  It seeks to attract foreign investment in Indian biological resources, to fast-track research, patent application processes, and transfer of research results, and to decriminalize non-compliance.  The Bill also seeks to further the conservation of biological resources in line with objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (“CBD”) and Nagoya Protocol to the CBD, to encourage cultivation of medicinal plants, and to support the Indian system of medicines.

The Bill’s proposed amendments are extensive and touch on many different aspects of ABS, but focus mainly on access and access procedures.  In this blog, we present the key proposed amendments, as well as next steps in the process for the adoption of the Bill.Continue Reading India To Amend Its Biodiversity Rules

Following the federal election in September 2021, Germany will soon be led by a new three-party coalition, the so-called “traffic light coalition”, composed of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Liberal Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party (Die Grünen). This new federal government led by the new chancellor Olaf Scholz from the Social Democrats will replace the Merkel administration and will be in office for four years. On November 24, 2021, the new coalition has presented their coalition agreement with their plans for the next 4 years. The agreement needs to be approved by the respective party committees and it is expected that all three parties will approve it.Continue Reading New German Government plans significant changes with Impact on the Healthcare, Life Sciences and Food Sector

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK Government has been exploring ways to leverage its new regulatory freedoms. In particular, the life sciences sector has been a key Government priority. As early as January 2021, for example, the Government granted the MHRA powers to fast-track approvals for innovative medicines. More recently, two reports from Westminster bodies have proposed a new regulatory regime for so-called “nutraceuticals” (products that are part drug, part nutritional) to encourage investment.Continue Reading Growing calls for separate Nutraceutical regulation in the UK