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Meat Recalled by Louisiana Manufacturer

The USDA announced yesterday that Belle Rose, Louisiana based food manufacturer?A La Carte Foods Properties, LLC is recalling more than 30,000 lbs of packaged ready-to-eat chicken and pork products produced since January 2017 for five restaurants in Louisiana and Texas.

Although there have not been any illnesses reported from consumption of the products, the products were manufactured?without the benefit of federal inspection, which violates federal food safety regulations.

The recalled products include jambalaya, gumbo and red beans with sausage, all sent frozen in 12-pound packages. A La Carte sells more than 100 items to restaurants under its own brands, A La Carte and Southern Casual.

If your food business is facing a potential recall situation, please contact our attorneys at Morsel Law. We specialize in assisting food businesses with food safety issues in order to ensure they comply with the law and protect their brands from potential damage associated with food safety situations.

Don’t worry – tips to confidently send your food-allergic child back to school

Quite often these days I’m asked my opinion on food allergies and how schools handle them. I’m not a doctor, allergist or a nutritionist, but for some reason people think I’m an expert on the subject because I’m a food attorney. Unfortunately for these parents, I’m not, actually far from it.?But this doesn’t stop parents of children with food allergies approaching me pretty much everywhere – at social events, kids’ birthday parties, crawfish boils, etc.

While I’m well-versed in FDA labeling regulations when it comes to allergens and I’ve written on the topic before, I have little experience implementing food allergy policies in schools. However, this being said, I’ve taken an interest in this topic as of late and have spent some of my free time performing some research. Since school has begun for most (or is soon approaching for others), I thought I’d share some tips to help alleviate parents stress of sending their food-allergic child to school.

Meet with school staff

You don’t need to wait until the school year begins to set up meetings, but the key is starting early. Meet with teachers, principals, nurses and cafeteria staff. This ensures that everyone is informed and allows parents to understand how their child’s school manages food allergies. While you’re at the school, ask for a tour of the cafeteria and other places where snacks are consumed.

Create a written plan

Work with your allergist to outline all necessary information on your child’s allergy, including how to prevent accidental exposures and how to recognize and treat symptoms of an allergic reaction. And don’t forget to include your contact information. Provide your child’s teacher and the school nurse with a copy of the plan and ask for a copy to be on file with the school. Everyone who comes in contact with that child throughout the day should have a copy too.

Post pictures

Tape pictures of your child to the classroom wall that includes information on their allergies to alert anyone that comes into the room. You may also want to post one on your child’s desk, which can serve as a secondary reminder during snack time or other celebration where food is served. This is especially important when there is a substitute teacher or another parent that visits the classroom that is unaware of a student’s food allergies and doesn’t have access to the child’s action plan.

Make safe snacks

Pack allergen-free snacks for your child in case someone brings in a treat for the class. Send the snacks to school with a label specifying that they are safe, or leave some with their teacher so your child won’t feel left out during classroom celebrations.

Open and frequent communication

Make sure you regularly speak with your child’s teacher which is critical to keeping your child safe during the school year. In addition to snacks, young children are often introduced to potential food allergens through activities and crafts – sensory tables with grain products like dried pasta, children may be encouraged to build something using empty milk cartons or egg crates, or baking projects may contain an unsafe ingredient. Ask your child’s teacher to reach out to you directly if there’s ever a question about the safety of an activity or snack. Ensuring they have your cell phone number saved in their phone and feel comfortable sending you a quick text message could be imperative to avoiding a dangerous allergic reaction.

Be informed and educate

Not only should a parent be well versed in their child’s food allergy, but it is important to educate your child about their allergies in order to keep them safe when they are not with you. You will not always have control over the food your child encounters, so it is critical to help your child learn to identify safe and unsafe situations independently. Allergy alert bracelets can be a useful tool for helping adults (who may not yet understand a child’s allergies) ensure a child’s safety. You may want to also check out the website for Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) which has great back-to-school resources.

Provide access to medications

An emergency supply of medications should always be readily available, including oral antihistamines and an epinephrine autoinjector. Whether it be the food-allergic child or a responsible adult, emergency medication shouldn’t be far away just in case.

Sending your food-allergic child to school doesn’t have to be scary. If you take the proper precautions and encourage constant and open communication with school staff, it will lead to a safe, happy school year for your child. This will give you the peace of mind knowing that your child’s needs are being met.

Is your craft beer actually from a craft brewery?

How familiar are you with your beer? It looks like a craft beer, it tastes like a craft beer, but is it actually made by a craft brewery? Many of the large brewers have been swallowing up successful craft breweries and adding them to their portfolio over the past several years. Leading the way is Anheuser-Busch, which has purchased 10 craft breweries over an eight-year period, including well-known brands such as Goose Island, 10 Barrel and Breckenridge. So if your a craft beer loyalist, it may pay to do your due diligence before you pick up your next six-pack.

To learn more about this topic, the Chicago Tribune published an article recently looking into this phenomenon.

Morsel Law assists craft breweries navigate the complex laws and regulations facing their industry. For a free consultation on how we can help your business, please contact us.

FDA Commissioner Says Kratom Unsafe

According to FDA’s Commissioner “anyone consuming kratom may be placing themselves at a significant risk of being exposed to salmonella.” This comes after a months long investigation by FDA and CDC into a salmonella outbreak that was traced to kratom products sold by various marketers and re-sellers. The FDA concluded that “anyone consuming kratom may be placing themselves at a significant risk of being exposed to salmonella.”?To read the full press release, click here.

Kratom is not legally marketed in the United States as a drug or dietary supplement. Kratom is an considered an opioid by FDA. It is addictive and has been linked to many severe health consequences and several deaths.?In a previous post, we noted FDA’s crackdown on kratom sellers believed to be sources of salmonella-tainted products.

Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as kratom, is listed as a controlled substance in 16 countries. Two of those countries, Thailand and Malaysia, are among kratom’s native countries of origin. In addition, six states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin — have banned the substance; several more have legislation pending.

Morsel Law is actively investigating businesses involved in the sale, manufacturing and distribution of kratom in order to seek justice for were unjustly deceived and mislead. If you relied on false and misleading health claims about the benefits of kratom, you should contact our law firm. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and our attorneys can help!

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FDA Issues Additional Warnings to Kratom Sellers

Last week the FDA issued a statement continuing to warn consumers not to use products containing kratom. FDA?Commissioner?Dr. Scott Gottlieb stated “[d]espite our warnings that no kratom product is safe, we continue to find companies selling kratom and doing so with deceptive medical claims for which there’s no reliable scientific proof to support their use.” A major concern for the agency is that sellers continue to make claims that kratom can cure opioid addiction. Gottlieb noted that “we cannot allow unscrupulous vendors to take advantage of consumers by selling products with [these] unsubstantiated claims.”

As part of their crackdown on kratom, the FDA issued Warning Letters to three marketers and distributors —?Front Range Kratom of Aurora, Colo., Kratom Spot of Irvine, Calif., and Revibe Inc. of Kansas City, Mo. The letters referenced more than 65 kratom products, including Maeng Da Red Vein Powder, Red Thai Kratom Powder, 50X Black Diamond Extract, Super Elephant, White Sumatra and Borneo White Vein Kratom Powder.

As we mentioned in an earlier article, the FDA issued a health advisory that warned consumers not to use the botanical substance kratom, which the agency said “affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine” and “appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse and dependence.”

Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as kratom, is listed as a controlled substance in 16 countries. Two of those countries, Thailand and Malaysia, are among kratom’s native countries of origin. In addition, six states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin — have banned the substance; several more have legislation pending.

Morsel Law is?actively investigating businesses involved in the sale, manufacturing and distribution of kratom in order to seek justice for were unjustly deceived and mislead.?If you relied on false and misleading health claims about the benefits of kratom, you should contact our law firm. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and our attorneys can help!

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Importing Dietary Supplements? What You Need to Know

Dietary supplement products that are destined for importation into the United States and for marketing to U.S. consumers are governed by a complex body of federal laws and regulations. These laws and regulations establish requirements that pertain to product manufacturing practices, product and ingredient safety, product labeling, marketing claims and product importation procedures, among other matters.

If you plan to import supplements into the U.S. and don’t know where to start, below is a checklist of items to consider.

Ingredients

  • Check the ingredient list for non-permitted ingredients and/or colors, or colors that require certification
  • Check ingredient name for the proper declaration

Label Format

All labels should include, at a minimum the following items:

  • Statement of Identity
  • Net Quantity
  • Supplement Facts
  • Ingredient List
  • Manufacturer, Packer, Distributor name and address
  • Country of Origin

Ingredient Permits

Do any of the ingredients of animal-origin requiring a permit (APHIS/USDA)?

Low-acid or acidified canned food

Is the product a low-acid or acidified canned food (pH/water activity) requiring additional process filings with FDA?

Claims

Claims are a common red flag for FDA/Customs inspectors. Make sure to review any disease or health claims for compliance with applicable regulations.

Facility Registration

Make sure the facility that manufactures the product is registered with FDA prior to importation to avoid delays.

Prior Notice

Each shipment requires a prior notification to be filed with FDA before the product arrives at its port of entry. Failure to file the prior notice in a timely manner can result in customs refusing entry of your shipment.

If you are unsure if the dietary supplements you plan to import comply with FDA regulations, contact our import specialists at Morsel Law for a FREE consultation.

So You Want to Start a Brewery in Louisiana?

Louisiana brewery

I’m sure you’ve spent time sipping on a cold pint with friends discussing launching your own brewery. Although the idea sounds good at the time, what you probably don’t know is that starting a brewery is no easy task. Navigating the laws and regulations alone would send most people running for the hills. However, there are some of you out there with the drive and passion for good beer and a determination to bring these tasty suds to the masses. So for those who’ve made it this far into my article, below I’ll outline the types of licenses need to start a brewery in Louisiana.

While breweries are regulated under both state and federal laws, for the purposes of this article I’ll just touch on the Louisiana specific requirements. Louisiana law allows a brewer to operate under either a brewer’s or microbrewer license.

Brewery License

A brewery license permits manufacturing an unlimited quantity of beer. Brewers may sell the beer they produce to licensed wholesalers, but may not sell directly to retailers. A brewery may also sell the beer it produces to consumers for on-premises consumption, but sales to consumers may not exceed either 10 percent of its monthly production or 250 barrels a month, whichever is greater. Sampling of beer on the brewery premises is permitted.

Microbrewery License

A microbrewer license permits manufacturing of up to 12,500 barrels of beer annually. Microbrewers may sell beer at retail for on or off-premises consumption, but may not sell beer to licensed wholesalers. A microbrewery may serve beer from other breweries, wine and even liquor. Sampling of beer on the brewery premises is permitted.

Key Differences between Licenses

The key differences between a brewer’s and microbrewery license is the amount of beer the establishment can produce, restaurant requirements and restrictions, and limitations on to whom you can sell.

Specifically, whereas a brewer’s license authorizes the production of an infinite amount of beer, a microbrewery license restricts production to 12,500 barrels per year. Both a brewery and microbrewery may be allowed to have a restaurant on its premises, however, food sales at a brewery may not exceed 25% of on-premises beer sales. No license permits the sale of beer directly to retailers and only breweries may sell to wholesalers. Unlike breweries which may only sell their own beer, microbreweries may sell beer from other breweries, wine and liquor.

If you need assistance in establishing or navigating the laws and regulations that effect your brewery, please contact us at Morsel Law.

FDA Steps Up Enforcement of Label Violations for Food Imports

I previously posted an article discussing the importance of accurate labeling, especially for food importers. Labeling errors are one of the most common reasons products shipped to the United States are refused entry. If a product is found to contain a labeling violation, the FDA may deem the product “misbranded,” making it a prohibited act to distribute the product in the U.S. Once the FDA identifies one mistake on a businesses’ labels, the agency is more likely to stop this businesses’ products at the border in the future.

In March 2018, the FDA refused entry to over 150 food products attempting to enter the U.S. These food products from various countries throughout the world now cannot be sold in the U.S. in their current form due to labeling violations, so now importers are faced with a difficult business decision.

There are three things importers can do with the refused products. First, they may re-label each item with FDA compliant labels. This would require the importer to design, print and affix new labels to each item refused entry within 15 days’ of receiving the refusal notice. The tight time-frame to accomplish these tasks is very difficult for smaller single-item shipments and almost impossible for larger multi-item shipments due to the manpower it would take to complete the labeling, in addition to the cost a labeling specialist will charge to expedite revised labels.

Another option is to export the products back to their port of origin or another suitable country (e.g., Canada, Mexico). While the importer would retain ownership of the products, the additional shipping cost may exceed the value of the underlying products. The last option, and usually the option of last resort, is to destroy the products while under FDA supervision. This usually occurs when the cost to re-label or export exceeds the value of the products refused entry.

FDA previously announced their intention to focus on import violations, as demonstrated by the March refusal list and their commitment to enforcing labeling laws. In order to avoid the high costs and delays resulting from a labeling violation, it is best to have food labels reviewed for FDA compliance prior to shipping the products to the U.S. The cost of such reviews are minimal in comparison to the cost of fighting to get your seized products released or exported due to a labeling violation.

If your business is unsure whether a product label is in compliance with, or need assistance in adapting your label to meet, FDA regulations Morsel Law can help. Order your flat-free label review to make sure your food label is in compliance.

9th Circuit Ruling Creates Liability for Ag Lenders

The 9th Circuit (sitting en banc) recently overruled established case law and expanded trust rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). The court now requires a “threshold true sale inquiry” focusing primarily on the transfer of risk between the parties. If there is no true sale (as with secured loans) then the court’s inquiry stops there and the assets remain in the trust. If there is a true sale then the court will consider whether the transaction is commercially reasonable: those not commercially reasonable remain in the trust while those that are both true sales and commercially reasonable will provide buyers with assets free and clear of the trust.

You can read more about this ruling here.