UCLA Law

Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy Newsletter

Spring 2016


Michael Roberts headshot

Executive Director's Corner: Putting Food Law on the Academic Map

I am very pleased to report on the important contribution that the Resnick Program has made recently in the development of food law and policy as an academic discipline. With the help of very bright students and a capable staff, I was fortunate to publish with Cambridge University Press, Food Law in the United States, the first treatise that systematically lays out the legal framework for the regulation of food. A major report, Food Equity, Social Justice, and the Role of Law Schools: A Call to Action, authored by Kim Kessler and Emily Chen and published by the program, addresses specifically the need for law schools to visibly and holistically address social, economic, and environmental injustice in the current US food system. These two publications underscore both the academic and social-mission roles that the program plays in the development of food law and policy. Additional publications have helped anchor the program as the intellectual leader in the development of food law and policy. Most notably, Academic Fellow, Emilie Aguirre, is authoring a timely article that will be published in the UCLA Law Review in 2017: Contagion without Relief: Agency Action and State Antibiotics. Global Distinguished Fellow, Hilal Elver, who serves as the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for the United Nations, has co-edited this year an important book – Reimagining Climate Change – that draws upon the collective experience of climate-change experts. Additional forthcoming publications include a casebook on food law and policy, book chapters, articles, white papers and other contributions on a range of topics here in the United States and globally.

With warm wishes,


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Resnick Program Explores Careers at the Intersection of Food and Law

career panel


This spring the Resnick Program brought together a panel of experts to speak about careers in food law and policy. The panel featured deputy director of PolicyLink and Los Angeles Food Policy Council board member Mary Lee; co-founder and CEO of Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association Matt Geller; and Sidley Austin partner Josh Hofheimer. The panelists brought a breadth of perspective and experience working on a range of issues. After a storied career in the restaurant industry before law school, Matt Geller now helps cities around the country pass ordinances to promote food truck vending. Mary Lee works on food issues through her advocacy for civil rights, health, and land equity issues. Josh Hofheimer entered food law practice through the private sector, having worked as CEO of a biotechnology company and later launching and leading Sidley Austin’s food science and biotechnology practice. This event highlighted the range of potential careers in food law and policy that exist beyond traditional legal practice. It was followed by a networking reception for panelists and students.

Outside Advisory Board Meets to Discuss Busy Year

Michael Roberts and Senator Harkin


This past March, members of the Resnick Program’s Outside Advisory Board gathered to celebrate a productive 2015 and discuss the program’s future. Members include a diverse group of pioneering lawyers, public officials, businessmen, and faculty. The Resnick Program highlighted some of its recent activity, including more than 20 events and outside speaking engagements throughout the year, as well as several publications. The meeting agenda included a presentation by Board Member Maisie Ganzler of the socially-responsible Bon Appetit Management Company, and a discussion about food trends as they relate to innovation, law and policy. Board members also interacted with students during a Q&A session and a “Science and Food” demonstration and tasting on coffee with Professor Amy Rowat of the Integrative Biology and Physiology Department.

Resnick Program Co-hosts Food Safety Leadership Workshop in China

China initiative team


From May 16-20, 2016, the Resnick Program co-hosted a five-day leadership workshop in Shanghai, China for key officials at all levels of government who are responsible for the safety of food products in China. Over 100 attendees participated in the Workshop, which featured distinguished experts from the United States and China, including Resnick Program Executive Director Michael Roberts, and focused on case study problems that replicated real food safety and governance challenges in China and which facilitated discussion on the role of regulation across the entire food system, from the farm to the plate. Topics included food fraud and consumer protection, risk analysis and the role of social media, corporate social responsibility and social governance, and food safety regulation at the farm level. The Workshop was the second international event of the China Food Safety Governance Initiative, managed by Resnick Program Senior Counsel Emily Chen, and which the Resnick Program launched in 2015 in cooperation with Renmin University School of Law, China’s top ranked law school, and East China University of Science and Technology School of Law, the leading law school in Shanghai on food regulation. The goal of the Initiative is to promote cross-border collaboration, communication, and mutual learning among food-safety professionals and academics in both China and the United States, as well as Asia and Europe.

Resnick and LAFPC Track Los Angeles Food Policies

food policy tracker cover


This inaugural Los Angeles Food Policy Tracker, which documents food policies undertaken in Los Angeles since October 24, 2012, debuted in March. The Tracker publishes recent local policy actions from around Los Angeles, allowing advocates and residents to more fully engage in local food policy and reflecting the increasing realization of the role local policy can play in improving the food system. The Tracker also builds institutional memory and awareness around food policy developments. Although the focus of the Tracker centers on the City of Los Angeles, substantial policy actions undertaken in the greater Los Angeles County are also included. The Resnick Program, with contributions from law students and members of the L.A. Food Policy Council (LAFPC), plans to update and re-release the Tracker on an annual basis, in order to monitor food policy developments and the implementations.

Law and Business Worlds Convene to Discuss Innovation in the Food Sector

roundtable discussion


This spring the Resnick Program launched an exciting roundtable series aimed at identifying and ameliorating law and policy hurdles to food innovation. In recent years, the food sector, represented by a new class of innovators, social entrepreneurs, and food start-ups, has witnessed rapid growth and change. These changes also reflect recent shifts in consumer demand for healthy, equitable, and sustainable food. The first roundtable discussion held in March, entitled Social Entrepreneurship in the Food Sector: Is the Law a Barrier to Innovation?, focused on how mission-driven food start-ups interact with the existing legal and regulatory framework. The second roundtable, Market Innovation and Plant-Based Foods: The Role of Law in a Changing Food Landscape, focused on the opportunities and challenges facing mission-oriented and plant-based food companies. Both brought together individuals from the business, law, and academic worlds to discuss concerns facing these new food entrepreneurs.

Pro Bono Network: Connecting Healthy Food to Legal Advice (CHeF LA)


This spring the Resnick Program launched an exciting new initiative, a pro bono intake and referral program called Connecting Healthy Food to Legal Advice (CHeF LA). CHeF LA is a free legal intake and referral service for individuals, non-profits, and small businesses working to improve healthy food access and sustainable food production in LA and nearby regions. With the help of three student volunteers—Tiana Carriedo, Arleen Fernandez, and Brian Fink—CHeF LA has successfully helped five organizations with potential legal issues by matching them with attorneys who will provide their services pro bono. CHeF LA will soon begin outreach for our second round of intake. We are looking forward to welcoming two additional student volunteers selected this spring to join our CHeF LA team.

Getting to Know the Resnick Scholars: Sam O'Brien and Michelle Cuozzo


The Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy awards a scholarship each year to two promising incoming UCLA Law students with a keen interest in food law and policy. The recipients of the 2015-2016 scholarships (now second-years at UCLA Law) were Sam O'Brien and Michelle Cuozzo.

law student 1


Originally on track for medical school through the Medical Scholars Program, Sam became interested in food law at the end of his career at UCSD. Instead of med school, he decided to do a 5th year and second major in Political Science where he researched GMO labeling legislation for his honors thesis, and won the DeWitt Higgs Award for Most Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Area of Law and Public Policy. During his first year at UCLA Law, he was involved in the El Centro Legal Reentry Clinic, played on the UCLA Law basketball team, completed the Law Review write-on, and was a member of the IP Law and Food Law societies. Over the summer, Sam is externing at the California Court of Appeals with Justice Raymond Ikola. He remains very interested in food law, and plans to take Professor Roberts’ Food Law and Policy Class while becoming more involved in both the Food Law Society and the Resnick Program over the next two years.

law student 2


Michelle’s interest in food law began as an undergraduate student during a class on meat production in New York City and its effects on the environment. She became curious about the relationship between modern food production and the environment. As a first year law student at UCLA Law, Michelle took a course on Food Fraud, taught by the Resnick Program’s Executive Director and Academic Fellow, and was a member of the UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. This summer, Michelle is working as a research assistant to Law Professors Joanna Schwartz and Timothy Malloy. Her future plans include returning to New York City, and participating in a full-time externship or working for several organizations that focus on food law and policy.

Save the Date!


3rd Annual UCLA-Harvard Food Law and Policy Conference
October 21, 2016

The Resnick Program at UCLA and The Food Law Lab at Harvard Law School invite you to the 3rd Annual UCLA‐HLS Food Law and Policy Conference, which will focus on the issue of food marketing to children. American youth are heavily exposed to junk food marketing—television, sponsorships, celebrity promotion, and now a vast array of digital and social mechanisms. Nevertheless, regulating exposure to these messages raises concerns of First Amendment violations and other legislative limitations. This conference will convene an interdisciplinary group of scientific, legal, and policy experts to consider the scale, impact, and potential responses to food and beverage marketing to children in the United States. It will feature keynote addresses by former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and internationally renowned expert on obesity and Dean of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, Kelly Brownell.


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