Food is too fundamental to take for granted. Food is worth the fight.

Improving the laws and regulations that govern food and the American food experience.

By bringing together students, leading scholars, practitioners, politicians and the public, the Harvard Program on Food Law expands interest and public focus on the importance of food law issues. Our program combines unprecedented academic rigor and research, experiential clinical learning, and community impact. Our work traverses fields as diverse as administrative, constitutional, tax, tort, and criminal law, trade and intellectual property regulation, and public policy.

Our mission is to make the food we eat safer and healthier…and taste better too.

The Harvard Program in Food Law will remain at the forefront of thought to advance policy in food justice, animal agriculture, food labeling, transparency, drugs, and the most challenging issues in the field. Through law, we will make our food safer, better and healthier.

Institutional Food: Feeding Schools, Prisons, the Military and More

Explores the law and practice of food provision in institutional settings such as prisons, schools, and the military. At the turn of the century, such institutions tended to receive systematically lower-quality food products. Today, given the combined proportion of the population in schools, prisons, and the military, much of our nation’s diet is being supplied by institutional food. Yet, neither the law governing institutional food, nor the food practices of institutions, nor the consequence for individuals living in those institutions, has been adequately evaluated.

Food Safety, Food Quality and the Taste/Safety Tradeoff

In our food supply system for optimized output, Food Safety must identify potential intentional and unintentional contaminants in the food supply and either prevent them or find and remove them after entry. Food Quality seeks to ensure that healthy, nutritious, and good-tasting foods are produced and consumed. These two problems are related, but they are also often in conflict. There is often a taste/safety tradeoff, and government regulators have strong incentives to favor safety, with long-term consequences for what we eat and the way we eat it.

Food Information & Transparency

Recognizes that the cornerstone of the United States food law system is information provision: people should know what they are eating. As a result, naming, labeling, and claiming are all heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and by state tort law. More than fifty currently pending lawsuits involve challenges to food products names or labels, some brought by consumers, some brought by competitors. Yet, we know remarkably little about how information provision actually affects consumer beliefs and behavior. The Food Information Awareness project seeks to explain and ultimately improve the use of information policies in the law of food.

Our Perspective

Our latest points of view and other news.