Food Law Group

IFST Food Law Group

The Food Law group provides members with an interest in food legislation with the opportunity to engage and share knowledge with fellow members. The Group is involved in a wide range of activities which includes hosting regular discussion workshops.


Find out more about the Food Law Steering Group

Our Food Law Steering Group aims to provide IFST members with regular information as well as organise regular thought provoking events.

Chair - Sam Jennings BSc, FIFST, Berry Ottaway & Associates Ltd  Sam provides advice to industry and governments globally on scientific, technical and regulatory aspects of food, particularly in relation to food supplements and functional foods. She offers support for dossier production for submission to the Commission and EFSA, particularly for novel foods, food additives and health claims. Since 2006, Sam has been Technical Adviser to the Council for Responsible Nutrition UK (CRN UK). She has been a member of the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) international Technical Working Group since its conception in 2010, and was Chair of this group from 2012-2017. Sam was directly involved with the Codex Committee on Food Additives from 2013 to 2016, and from 2014-2016 attended the annual meetings as Head of Delegation and spokesperson for IADSA, an accredited NGO under Codex Alimentarius.

Other members of the Steering Group

Ruth Birt FIFST, Regulatory Solutions Ltd  Ruth graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 1982 with a BSc in Food Science; it was during this time that she became a student member of IFST. Following a career with a strong focus on dealing with the many regulatory aspects affecting dietetic foods in different markets across the world, Ruth completed a Masters in Food Law from Demontfort University in 2000. This coincided with her setting up her consultancy company offering regulatory advice to blue chip companies on all aspects of regulatory affairs affecting the specialist food and nutrition industry. Ruth has been active on the IFST Scottish Branch Committee for many years, and currently holds the position of Chair.

Mark J. Tallon BSc, LLM MSc MA PhD CBiol CSci RNutr FSB FIFST

Dr Tallon holds masters and doctorate degrees in exercise & nutritional biochemistry, a master's in food law and a master degree in European law from the Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London. He is a chartered scientist, biologist and registered nutritionist with over 200 published articles in trade and peer reviewed journals covering sports nutrition, functional foods and the impact of European food law regulations. 

He is past chair of the Food Law group of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and vice-chair of European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA). He is also an advisor to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) expert Advisory Panel for the future of regulation development within the UK and represents ESSNA at the Expert Group on Food Standards and Labelling (BEGx) and its sub group on health claims. He holds Fellowships with the Royal Society of Medicine, Royal Society of Biology, Institute of Food Science and Technology, and is the editorial board member of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

He is currently Managing Director of the food law consultancy Legal Foods®, representing food businesses & trade associations in all aspects of European food law including the preparation of health claim submission, food labelling, enforcement defence, and novel food applications. His previous roles have included University lecturer in nutrition and physiology on degree and masters level courses and as Director of European regulatory affairs for a number of multinational sports nutrition companies. In his spare time Dr Tallon is an avid Ironman Triathlete and marathon runner.

Alex Kent, Bruce Lambourne, Melanie Bulger, Luke Murphy, Ron Kill, Dionisis Theodosis, Kathryn Callaghan, Claire Wood, Jean Feord-Marshall, David Faires

What we are up to

The Food Law Group hosts two events each year. They are half day interactive session featuring expert advice on a hot topic in the food industry followed by a discussion to share knowledge and experiences.



Event reviews


Many companies are looking to discover the implications of Brexit, and whilst at the time of writing, the terms of UK’s withdrawal from the European Community have not been established, there is a pressing need to develop new markets.

This symposium sought to address these challenges, through the combined expertise of three speakers, who gave three excellent presentations, overflowing with information, followed by a Q & A Panel session.

It was chaired by Sam Jennings, Chair of the IFST Food Law Special Interest Group and aided and abetted by Natasha Medhurst, IFST’s Scientific Affairs Manager.

Read the full review




"We are living in uncertain times". That was the thrust of the introduction by Sam Jennings, Chair of the IFST Food Law group, at their recent event, "Focus Future – A Regulatory Minefield?"

The meeting featured three speakers to help the audience steer through the uncertainties, each bringing different perspectives from across the UK food landscape: Michael Jackson – leader of the FSA’s “Regulating our Future” (RoF) programme, a root and branch reform of the food regulatory system in the UK; Helen Munday, Chief Scientific Officer from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) with a pan-industry perspective, and Gokay Sen, Regulatory Consultant at Leatherhead Food Research, providing an expert consultancy view.

Michael Jackson was clear that the RoF programme came before the decision for the UK to exit the EU, but is having to align the plans. The intent is to have a modern resilience regulatory system that delivers to the FSA pledge that “Food is safe and what it says it is”. This system will be supported by technological advances in data handling and analysis to better predict and assure food safety and standards. Moving through an enhanced new business registration process, risk-based determination of controls, and better use of information that is available from industry assurance activities, businesses will be expected to pay the full cost of regulation, but within a more effective and efficient system where costs are reduced for the lower risk and more compliant businesses.

Helen Munday then took the audience through some potential impacts of the UK's exit from the EU on the food and drink sector. FDF has published a manifesto of priorities, and are engaging regularly with government on behalf of its members, to help provide the clarity everyone is seeking. Helen highlighted a number of risks: to access to talent; to the creation of new non-tariff barriers through regulation divergence; divergence within the UK countries. She stressed that it is necessary to get things right on day 1, using a ‘lift and shift’ approach to EU regs, with a roadmap for future changes in legislation and a framework for mutual recognition. Access to intelligence and rapid alerts needs to be maintained, as well as access to or substitutes for EFSA risk assessment, EU inspection capabilities, databases on claims, and approaches to labelling and PGIs (protected geographical identification). There was some light in the message – Brexit has brought the UK food supply chain players together to maximise outcomes, there are enough mutual benefits for continued close cooperation with the EU, and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could be improved.

Gokay Sen then explained the role of Codex Alimentarius, the global food standards body, which operates in a similar structure to the EU. The UK will have the right to speak and vote as a single country, after exiting the EU. However the speed of change can be an issue, with many more countries involved, and the standards are not always as strict or specific. He outlined the relationship with the WTO and its agreements, dealing with rules of trade, which usually refer to Codex standards as reference texts for trade disputes. The UK will be bound still to follow WTO agreements (as it does for many countries), unless there are negotiated trade agreements. The future may hold more disputes involving the UK specifically (EU handle these currently) and a potential deal with the US may present particular areas of challenge, e.g. GM crops and food, novel foods, hormone fed beef, chlorinated chicken, organic foods.

The audience left, still facing a lot of uncertainty and questions, but perhaps clearer on some of the potential contributing factors and their implications.




On 1st January 2018, Regulation (EC) No. 258/97 on novel foods and novel food ingredients will cease to apply, and Regulation (EU) No. 2015/2283 on novel foods will take its place. What will this change mean for foods already on the European Union (EU) market and new foods intended for placing on the market? The incoming Regulation 2015/2283 has the same ‘cut off’ date of 15th May 1997 for defining a novel food, but it brings in some changes, including extending and clarifying the classification categories of novel foods, and also to the authorisation process. A new authorisation process is added for traditional foods entering the EU market from Third Countries, and other ingredients will be subject to central authorisation.

Expert speakers reviewed the implications of these changes. The programme looked at the requirements of the incoming Regulation, the points expected to be of priority in future reviews of novel foods, and the potential effects of Regulation 2015/2283 on certain food categories already present on the market, with the status of insects and insect-derived products discussed as an example. The possible implications of the UK’s exit from the EU on UK submissions that are already going through the novel foods process was covered, as was the effect of this issue on future novel foods assessments by the UK.




The Food Law Group organised an interesting and informative event on the legislative changes, and their implications, surrounding the repeal of the Directive on foods for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTS) and the application of the new Regulation on Foods for Special Groups (FSG).

Following a welcome and introduction by David Faires, Chair of the Food Law Steering Group, Noel Griffin, Department of Health, started the event with an overview of the changes implemented by the new FSG Regulation and an explanation of the associated enforcement controls. 

Four categories of food, once classed as PARNUTS products, are now considered under the new law to be standard foods, controlled by general food law, and these were considered in the subsequent presentations.

Sam Jennings, Berry Ottaway & Associates, provided a summary of some of the main implications of the PARNUTS to FSG changes on meal replacements for weight control, which are designed to replace one or two meals a day.

Suzane Leser, European Specialist Sport Nutrition Alliance, followed with an introduction to the category of sports foods and how the category has developed and expanded over the years under PARNUTS, resulting in it being declared as not being within the scope of FSG.

Naomi Johnson, British Specialist Nutrition Association, gave an update on the implications of the PARNUTS to FSG move on follow-on formulae for young children (‘toddler milks’). As with meal replacements and sports foods, there are still unresolved issued under discussion with the EU Commission and Member States, over six months after application of the FSG Regulation on 20th July 2016.

The final presentation was given by Ned Mazhar, Food Standards Agency, who explained the intricacies of gluten labelling under the new legislative framework.

David Faires led the concluding Q&A session, and the event ended with a networking lunch and the opportunity for participants to ask the speakers further questions.

Speaker Biographies


Get in touch

If you would like to get more involved with our Food Law Group, please contact us.