Agriculture and Food Law
Van Bael & Bellis’s practice in agriculture and food law enjoys more than a decade of experience in this particular area of law.
Detailed knowledge and expertise relating to agricultural legislation are becoming increasingly important since the wide-ranging overhaul of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Van Bael & Bellis closely monitors policy-making at DG Agriculture and DG Health and Consumer, being conscious of the need to keep abreast of the latest developments at all stages of the food chain. In doing so, Van Bael & Bellis is able to advise its clients during every step of the process: “from farm to fork”.
With its international team, Van Bael & Bellis is in a unique position to combine its expertise in EU law with an in-depth knowledge of how EU legislation is implemented by Member States.
Regulation of agricultural production
Van Bael & Bellis assists clients in complying with the CAP’s rules and their implementation at national level. Van Bael & Bellis ensures that its clients active in the farming industry respect the applicable EU standards such as:
- Commercialisation standards for fruit and vegetables
- Use of GMOs
- Use of pesticides
- Animal welfare
Van Bael & Bellis also represents and advises clients that are beneficiaries of EU subsidies in their interactions/trials with the EU and national governmental bodies responsible for managing the financial aspects of the CAP.
Food safety and marketing
Recent food crises have once again underlined the importance of food safety and, more particularly, food chain management and consumer information. Companies active in the sector face an increased level of regulation and are under constant scrutiny to ensure the marketing of safe food products. Van Bael & Bellis assists food producers, distributors and farmers to navigate their way through the regulatory maze to market animal feeds, general foods and beverages (e.g., frozen foods, organic foods, dairy products, geographical indications, etc), specific type of foods (e.g., baby foods, anti-allergy foods, hallal food, etc), food supplements, medicines and cosmetics. Van Bael & Bellis has significant expertise at every step of the supply chain as well as of the food chain, i.e., from raw materials to processed food.
Van Bael & Bellis helps companies during the development and management of:
- Traceability systems
- Marketing authorisations
- Clinical trials
- Promotional practices
- Product classification
- Product recalls
- Geographical indications
Furthermore, Van Bael & Bellis advises clients with issues such as labelling, health and nutritional claims (e.g., “low fat”, “low cal”, “high fibre”, “cholesterol-reducing”, etc) and organic certification. Van Bael & Bellis also assists its clients in setting up appropriate nutrient profiles, obtaining market authorisations and designing advertising campaigns, in order to be compliant in the labelling of their products. Safety determinations, as well as labels guaranteeing quality and origin for food supplements and foods, are also becoming an increasing part of the firm’s work.
The emergence of new technologies, such as the use of GMOs and cloning, has led to the introduction of strict regulatory frameworks that must be understood in depth.
To remain competitive, farmers and producers are increasingly turning to innovative procedures. Van Bael & Bellis is particularly interested in these technological niches (e.g., the use of nanomaterials and the discovery of “new foodstuffs”) and their accompanying regulations, which are evolving rapidly. As a result, Van Bael & Bellis is frequently consulted before new rules are drafted as well as during their implementation.
The firm’s regulatory lawyers work closely with the IP and anti-trust lawyers to globally evaluate opportunities and risks in the life sciences sectors. Regulatory due diligence enables clients to assess risks that can occur when investing in an agri-food or life sciences company. Van Bael & Bellis lawyers also regularly lobby for their clients before European and national authorities and represent their clients before the national and EU courts.
Recurring clients of Van Bael & Bellis’ agricultural and food law practice include a European leader in vegetable products, a major airline company, a distributor of halal food and culinary solutions, a producer of margarines, a key player in the French dairy industry, and an association of frozen food producers.