On June 15, 2017, McDermott Will & Emery partner Michelle Gon, and MWE China Law Offices partner James H. Jiang and Wendy Y.H. Wu, Head of the firm’s Intellectual Property (IP) practice group, were invited to attend the 13th Annual Food & Beverage Summit 2017 (Summit) held in the Renaissance Shanghai Pudong Hotel. Mr. Jiang, serving as the Chairman of the Summit, was joined by other distinguished speakers in the discussion of the latest topics and industry developments in food, food safety, and product quality laws and regulations with representatives from such world-renowned food and beverage companies as McDonald's, Bunge, Ferrero, Abbott, Mars, Yum! and the Kraft Heinz Company, among others.
At the Summit, Mr. Jiang delivered an insightful speech on the topic of “Challenge and Compliance under China Food Safety Law.” Specifically, his speech focused on the latest regulatory thinking embodied in the recently revised Food Safety Law (2015), the core piece of legislation at the very center of China’s legal system for food safety, which he analyzed in the context of the newly introduced food safety inspectorate system, investigation and subsequent handling measures, evidence advance registration and preservation system, parallel processing of criminal investigation and administrative permission, “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof, random inspection measures, and industry entry and credit system, etc. Mr. Jiang also explained several core legal concepts and definitions under the recently revised food safety laws that are oftentimes confusing to food and beverage companies, such as “gutter oil” and “shelf life.” Furthermore, Mr. Jiang elaborated on the topic of criminal risks and specific criminal liabilities from the perspective of food and beverage companies. He explained three major sources of criminal risks for food and beverage companies and the corresponding crisis-management methods. Tapping into to his rich practice experience and the cases he has handled in the past, Mr. Jiang well explained the complex legal concepts to the distinguished guests at the Summit, who responded to his logical yet humorous deliveries with rounds of warm applause.
Ms. Wendy Wu and Mr. Zhong, a special guest from the Market Supervision and Administration Bureau, jointly gave a speech on the topic of “Food Label Compliance and Consumers Conflicts Solutions.” First, Ms. Wu introduced the general laws and regulations on food labeling as well as the special food policies and applicable standards. Further, based on her experiences advising clients on food labeling related issues, Ms. Wu identified the main forms of labeling non-compliance as incomplete and inaccurate labels and missing Chinese marks and discussed the legal liabilities of enterprises and companies. On solving consumer disputes, Ms. Wu and Mr. Zhong combined their own practice experiences with concrete examples from cases they have handled and respectively spoke on the issues commonly found in consumer disputes cases, including “Triple Refunds for Every Return (of a mislead or deceived purchase)” or “Ten Times Refund for Every Return (of a mislead or deceived purchase)” and strategies for coping with the “professional consumer.” Ms. Wu also provided some tips on enterprise product label compliance, recommending that enterprises put top priority on product quality and ensure products’ quality meets compliance requirements; place great emphasis on the compliance management of product marks and labels; and conduct internal trainings and establish responding mechanisms dealing with the “professional consumer” to avoid incessant harassment and any government investigation thus incurred. Ms. Wu’s speech was received with warm applause from the attendees.
Ms. Michelle Gon hosted the panel discussion, which was joined by Qian Bing, managing partner of Deloitte Shanghai, as well as Mr. Xu from the Shanghai Market Supervision Administration (MSA) Enforcement Team. The panel discussion attendees envisaged, from the different perspectives of law enforcement, legislation and industry consultants, the innovation outlook of the food and beverage industry in the near future and further discussed the topic of the “professional consumer.” The Summit attendees actively raised questions, which were answered and discussed in the overall congenial atmosphere at the Summit.
The food, beverage and agriculture practice group of MWE China Law Offices, along with its strategic alliance partner McDermott Will & Emery, provides legal services for more than 500 food and agricultural enterprises. Our team offers comprehensive solutions to clients over cross-border jurisdiction matters. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the whole industry, from the fields, production and packaging, to distribution, import, export, marketing and retail, which enables us to quickly identify and solve the legal issues that may significantly impact our clients’ business activities in China. Meanwhile, our frequent and close interactions with various regulatory agencies give rise to our profound insight into the direction of governmental policies, which allows us to better prepare and guide our clients in the ever-changing regulatory landscape of China.