Does our Legal System Promote and Protect Public Health? Views from the Science, Industry, and Consumer Perspectives

July 30, 2014 3:15pm

Jeffrey Blumberg
Director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Tufts University (Boston, MA)

Anthony Anscombe
Sedgewick LLP (Chicago, IL)

As Summit attendees have heard, the food industry is under a litigation microscope these days, with many class action lawsuits over advertising and labeling claims. A great deal of this litigation is driven by industry’s desire to meet consumer demand for healthy nutrition, functional foods, and specific health benefits. Companies describe their products as “natural” or tout that they contain antioxidants or probiotics. Then litigation ensues on the premise that the manufacturer has said something that wasn’t true, or was true but could not be expected to confer a benefit. This roundtable will examine what effects litigation might have on innovation, the economic viability of products conferring health benefits, public health, and how to balance scientific uncertainty with consumer’s interests in novel and beneficial products.