Turning the tide
One of my actual readings is Barack Obama’s “A promised land”. I am still at the beginning of his presidential campaign: to be precise when the tides turned in his favor after winning the primaries in Iowa. So please do not spoiler me at the end.
The book itself is an old-fashioned and nowadays rare hardcover printed edition, in the original language; one of that books that you can smell, feel in your hands because of its weight and dwell into completely, sunken in a rocking chair, with just a soft yellow light in the darkness of my personal refuge. Obama has always been a charming speaker and an excellent writer: his language is plain, but rich at the same time, and reading in English you can really appreciate it. The whole experience is so far incredibly pleasant.
And since this newsletter is about food, but is becoming something clearly more intimate, I would like to share my main takeaways from the book so far.
The first one is that if you want to achieve anything great in life you have to really enjoy the process: the process will be most probably painful and stressful, as much as it will exciting and empowering in other moments. But to endure, you have to enjoy it. The result is a consequence of a right process and it will never be fulfilling as the path to achieving it.
The second thought is that the rapid ascent of Obama and the turning of the tide in his favor was driven by the grassroots movement created in years, by the common people donating few bucks to the cause (that altogether matched the millions raised by other candidates better placed to pitch usual high-end donors), by the feeling that he instilled in people that they can still count. Communities, together with ideals and a thoughtful strategy, lifted Obama above all the other candidates in an unexpected way: in the dirty game of politics you can try to trash ideals, disrupt strategies, destroy personalities but — at least in a democracy — you cannot stop people to go out and voting.
I think that as Food Law Latest we did a great job in building something similar in the food sector. We have more than 50.000 connections and friends following us on different channels and it’s from a while that I start thinking about how to leverage all this energy, all the potential that resides in this community, all the talent that we could gather and give back more to those that are supporting us.
And surely there will be a “call to action” for anyone interested, sooner or later.
Technologies allow us today to work and cooperate remotely, but my feeling — mark my words — is that in 10 years from now the full deployment of all the web3, blockchain, and NFTs implications will allow us to build ecosystems based on the concept of “shared” and “ownership” economy. Through decentralization, de-fi tools, and smart contracts, it will be possible to make each one of you a “brick” of this complex architecture and allows you to share projects and benefits.
In the meantime, my first thought has been to organize a live event specifically dedicated to the youngest: you might be a student, an intern, or trainee at your first job, or simply someone passionate about food and full of curiosity. In this case, this is something of your interest and free of charge. If you are more “experienced”, in any case, we won’t let anybody out (1000 spots available)
I receive literally hundreds of emails and messages asking how to become a food lawyer, what to study, which schools to attend, how to be noted, how to be hired if it’s best the private practice or the in-house path, how to leverage social media…etc…this is your chance to ask!
On 9th March 2021, 6–8 pm Rome time (CEST+1), join me here!
(NB: please pre-register through the link you will find on this page — a Google Form — and you will receive via e-mail the Zoom link for the live chat)
Coming back to our food law, this week we published a short video from our last webinar about food labeling in the EU. It contains some useful links to relevant info and has been edited by our team in a new format. Let us know what do you think. This is just the first step towards stronger video production. We are putting in places systems for that.
Regarding other topics, some interesting articles:
- Why a one-fits-all precautionary allergen labeling threshold might be counterproductive: recently a common threshold of 5 ppm has been proposed to manage allergens cross-contamination in food. Bert Popping explains why this approach might be counterproductive and leave certain sensitive subjects exposed;
- WHO just published the updated edition of “Food marketing exposure and power and their associations with food-related attitudes, beliefs and behaviors: a narrative review”: the review is massive and includes 143 content analysis studies (studies that consider where food marketing occurs, how much there is, for which brands/products and what creative content and marketing techniques are used) and 36 consumer research studies (studies that explore individuals’ beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and behavioral responses to food marketing) published between 2009 and 2020. Despite the pledges of some global brands and regulatory efforts in certain countries, the findings reveal that marketing to children and young adults is still persuasive, especially when exercised through specific techniques:
“More worrying is the apparent continued and extensive use of persuasive marketing techniques, techniques that are evolving and making use of all the opportunities that digital marketing platforms can offer. Celebrity/sports endorsements, promotional characters, cross-promotions/tie-ins, and gift incentives are all techniques designed to foster interaction with digital marketing content and are particularly salient and engaging for young audiences. Evidence is emerging that food marketing exposure and power influences not only children’s food-related beliefs and attitudes (e.g. norms), and their food behaviors (e.g. frequency of product consumption) but also their health outcomes (e.g. BMI, the prevalence of dental caries). Qualitative evidence confirms that young people are aware of food marketing, have good knowledge of food brands, find the techniques used engaging and persuasive, and believe that it affects their food behaviors, and more specifically, that it drives hunger, craving, purchasing, and consumption. Recognizing the potential harms of the current high levels of exposure to food marketing across multiple platforms, both young people and their parents support greater regulation of this activity. This narrative review provides further evidence that strengthens the rationale for action to restrict food marketing to which children are exposed.”
This report could be probably used by certain countries as a base for further regulatory restrictions in advertising to children, therefore it is something food brands shall be aware of.
- People for palm oil: Unilever leverages crowdsourcing to boost supply chain transparency Interesting experiment to gather information and increase transparency in the supply chain by Unilever, in a moment where the palm oil price — like most of the other raw materials — is skyrocketing. Beware of frauds and illegally sourced palm oil, since incentives at the moment might be higher than usual for fraudsters.
Next events where you can find me:
- LUISS LLM in Food Law 25–26th March and 1st April 2022;
- International Akademie Fresenius Online Conference “Sustainability Claims and Climate Labels for Food Products” on 7th April 2022;
- Lexxion “How to most effectively detect and combat food fraud” (agenda under construction) on 28th April 2022.