Symposium tackles consumer issues of food, seafood mislabeling

Issue December 2015 By Jason Scally

The Massachusetts Bar Association's Consumer Advocacy Task Force, chaired by MBA Vice President Christopher A. Kenney, hosted its Second Annual Consumer Advocacy Symposium on Wednesday, Nov. 18, which featured panels of experts, who addressed the legal issues and litigation triggered by food labeling and mislabeling.

The first panel, moderated by task force member Jessica G. Kelly of Sherin and Lodgen LLP, focused on recent litigation alleging false labeling of food as containing healthy and/or natural ingredients. Panelists Andrew Rainer (Public Health Advocacy Institute), John Roddy (Bailey & Glasser) and Joshua Solomon (Pollock Solomon Duffy) discussed examples of cases where companies' branding or marketing efforts were found to be misleading.

The symposium's second panel, moderated by task force member Jaimeson E. Porter of Kenney & Sams PC, tackled the legal issues surrounding the mislabeling of seafood, and the steps that have been taken to try to rectify these issues. Panelists John Connelly (National Fisheries Institute), Logan Gregory (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Richard Heller (Legal Sea Foods) discussed examples of seafood fraud and offered their opinions on what drives it and who is responsible.

Following the panel discussions, MBA President Robert W. Harnais and task force member Nadine Cohen presented MBA Pinnacle Awards to Fresh Truck and Market Basket. The Pinnacle Awards highlight companies that take proactive steps to protect the consumer and employ business practices, which serve as positive models to others.

Fresh Truck, the Boston based company that uses a retrofitted school bus to operate as a mobile food market, was honored for identifying novel and creative ways of delivering healthy food options to low-income households in Boston. Market Basket, owned by DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., was honored for nearly a century of bringing affordable groceries, dignified jobs, pro-consumer policies and more to Massachusetts communities.

The Pinnacle Award honorees then joined panel members, MBA officers and symposium attendees for a reception in the lobby.

Thank you to Symposium Co-Chairs Andrew Rainer and Nadine Cohen and the rest of the Consumer Advocacy Task Force for organizing the successful event.