Our food practice focuses particularly on food supplements, dietetic foods and foods for particular nutritional purposes, as well as on broader issues concerning the intersection with regulation of cosmetics, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. We counsel clients on labeling and advertising compliance including the permissible use of health and nutritional claims, claims substantiation and false advertising, and the regulation of product launches, product placement and advertisement, and branding and advertising strategies. We assist with marketing approval and notification procedures for novel foods, food additives and other functional ingredients, and our lawyers frequently act before the relevant regulatory authorities such as the European Commission and the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety. In addition, we have vast experience in advising our clients on traceability schemes and crisis management plans, license agreements, multi-level marketing, direct and selective distribution and franchising. Finally, we regularly appear before the European Court of Justice as well as before national courts, including the German Supreme Court.
Our longstanding involvement in the food industry provides us with a deep understanding of the industry’s specific issues and its needs for creative legal solutions in a highly regulated market. Our clients range from the largest multinational food companies to startup and family-owned companies, and our lawyers participate in the legal committees of various food associations. Because we are intimately familiar with the fast changing regulatory and legislative environment, we can react quickly to the changing needs of our clients and work with them to define and advance their positions in legislative proceedings on health and safety issues at both national and EU levels. Moreover, we offer comprehensive strategic regulatory and legal counseling and representation in the related pharmaceutical, biotechnology, feed and seed, cosmetic and medical device industries.
Our food practice includes more than 25 professionals globally, of whom about 10 are located in Europe, mainly in our Frankfurt office. In Germany, WilmerHale’s food lawyers are widely recognized as among the leading experts in the field. With that depth in Europe and in the US, we offer an interdisciplinary and transatlantic one-stop shop approach to the sector. Customized, strategically structured cross-disciplinary teams can address all relevant client needs, including in areas such as Intellectual Property, Antitrust and Competition, International Trade, Investment and Market Access, and Litigation. Our transatlantic dimension gives us the ability to provide comprehensive representation to clients, particularly on multinational product issues.
In recent examples of our work in the food, nutrition and cosmetics practice, we:
- Represented a German industry association before the European Court of Justice in obtaining a judgment annulling certain EU packaging requirements.
- Represented a leading manufacturer of medical devices in multi-year proceedings at the EU and national levels, resisting the imposition of a ban on the use of certain materials in these devices. We developed a strategy for this proceeding, assembled a team of medical device consultants and scientific experts, and developed and coordinated the implementation of a program of regulatory advocacy supported by a comprehensive, factual, evidence-based record on every aspect of the issue.
- Advised a leading spices and herbs producer on various regulatory issues relating to PPP residues in spices and herbs in the European Union.
- Assisted the Philippine carrageenan industry and the Philippine government in reversing a change in the EU standards for this food additive that would have shut it out of the market.
- Advised a leading household products manufacturer on compliance with the Dangerous Preparations and Cosmetics Directives.
- Advised a US client on various novel food authorization procedures.
- Advised a leading consumer products manufacturer on the legality of the EU Health Claims Regulation.
- Advised a leading integrated meat processor on dealing with an animal health crisis, including development of a strategy to reintroduce imports of meat products from disease-free regions.