Benesch has been a part of the food and beverage industry for decades, working alongside our clients to address the spectrum of legal issues that arise from farm to table. We are more than just a firm that represents companies in the food and beverage space – we strive to provide expertise in the specific areas that are essential to our food and beverage clients’ success.
Our Food & Beverage Team represents all types of clients who are part of the food supply chain, including food and beverage manufacturers, processors, packagers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers. We assist clients at all stages of the product lifecycle, from product development and regulatory approval/clearance to advertising, marketing and distribution. We work in conjunction with practice groups throughout the firm to offer clients comprehensive regulatory, enforcement and strategic counsel. We are able to assist food and beverage clients every step of the way along the product lifecycle and can advise on most any legal issue that may arise along the way.
Transportation & Logistics
We have significant experience in transportation and logistics management, in all transportation modes, on a regional, national and global basis. As a result, we are also able to provide valuable perspectives to clients in the food and beverage industry and a deep and broad historical knowledge of the regulatory and legal regime. Our firm has specific expertise in supply chain, logistics management and warehousing related issues, cargo claims, vehicular casualty work, environmental claims, coverage disputes, freight charge disputes, freight intermediary issues, transportation and warehouse contracting, regulatory matters, acquisitions, restructuring and subrogation work. For a number of our nationwide food product manufacturing and transport clients, we have advised on their entire food transport, storage and security regimes, including operational procedures, qualification of transportation partners and completely updating all transportation contracts, so that those clients are completely compliant with the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA)
Benesch’s Food & Beverage Team is experienced in representing clients before the FDA, USDA, USPTO and various state agencies in all phases of the product development cycle. We provide counsel on product and ingredient notifications, FDA inspections, and regulatory and due diligence audits. Our attorneys advise on pending legislation, product corrective actions and the regulatory aspects of product development. We help clients avoid enforcement problems by conducting regulatory and compliance audits in the areas where possible exposure may be a concern. We are also doing an increasing amount of work in California related to Proposition 65.
Packaging and Labeling
We frequently work with clients to review labeling and packaging and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. This is an area of increased concern in the food and beverage industry and our team helps clients stay ahead of the game. We are intimately familiar with the FMSA. When recalls are required, we assist clients in all stages, from regulator notification to media damage containment and reputation recovery. In addition, Benesch’s Food & Beverage Team is able to advise upon clients’ development and implementation of media relations, marketing and advertising strategies.
Corporate / M&A
Benesch has been assisting multinational, middle market and emerging companies in connection with complex public and private mergers and acquisitions as well as joint ventures for more than 50 years. We have approximately 55 attorneys and legal assistants who are devoted to this market and a number of our corporate and M&A clients are in the food and beverage industry. We counsel clients in all aspects of complex M&A transactions, including advance preparation/diligence for prospective targets, asset sales and purchases, mergers, corporate governance advice, joint ventures, leveraged buyouts, private equity, proxy contests, recapitalizations, stock sales and purchases and equity and debt offerings. We advise under the full range of governing laws commonly used in transactions in the food and beverage industry worldwide. As members of multiple international legal networks, we have capabilities to assist food and beverage clients around the global. Additionally, we assist in day-to-day management ranging from corporate governance to contract review to executive compensation.
Whether it is an individual, class action suit or government agency inquiry, Benesch attorneys have successfully resolved many food and beverage industry-related disputes. With over 75 attorneys in our Litigation Practice Group, our diverse food and beverage industry litigation includes handling unfair competition and false advertising claims, product recalls, insurance disputes, supply chain liability issues, contract matters, regulatory disputes and criminal investigations. Our team also counsels clients concerning contaminated food claims and related challenges, such as interacting with regulatory authorities, the media and customers and defending product liability actions.
Labor & Employment
We offer a four-pronged approach to labor and employment services, including general labor, employment and union issues (as well as litigation); employee benefits and compensation; and immigration. The strength of our attorneys’ experience in each of these areas allows us to provide a full range of services to food and beverage industry clients on a national basis. Members of our Food & Beverage Team advise on day-to-day employment issues to avoid or minimize litigation and disruption to workplace operations. We provide clients with a variety of customizable employment training programs and assist with preparing and reviewing safety programs, operating procedures, safety rules and employee handbooks. We routinely counsel clients on immigration-related matters and develop practical strategies to overcome roadblocks for employee mobility. We understand the need to promptly obtain required authorizations and approvals to meet our clients’ goals and ensure the smooth transition of international personnel. At the same time, we offer foreign workers the information and guidance they need to comfortably make the transition to the U.S. Our immigration experience includes conducting I-9 compliance and immigration compliance audits as well as training employers on best practices regarding I-9 compliance and E-Verify employment verification requirements.
Members of our Food & Beverage Team have experience with all forms of intellectual property, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Services we provide include drafting and prosecuting patent and trademark applications, advising clients on patent and trademark infringement and validity matters, and drafting intellectual property-related agreements. We file and prosecute applications to acquire trademark and copyright registrations before the U.S. Copyright Office and the USPTO. We can also negotiate license and distribution agreements affecting technology transfers and advise on FTC and FDA product advertising and promotion requirements. We work with clients to register patents and trademarks internationally to assist clients in the going global process. Our work includes managing domestic and multinational intellectual property portfolios to make sure that our clients’ registrations are up to date and all applications are submitted on a timely basis.