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May 12, 2015

Global Food Law Program graduates its largest class

Hoping to better navigate the complexities of food law and regulation, the first major cohort of students from Michigan State University College of Law’s Global Food Law Program will graduate Friday.

The College of Law commencement ceremony will be at 11 a.m. at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Because the Global Food Law Program is completely online, graduation is the only on-campus activity for the program.

Launched in 2012 in collaboration with MSU’s Institute for Food Laws and Regulations, the Global Food Law Program is the first and only global food law master’s degree program. It offers two tracks: a master of laws for practicing lawyers or those with a law degree and a master of jurisprudence for those without law degrees. There are currently 30 students from seven countries enrolled in the program.

“Understanding global food law can prevent costly regulatory mistakes, such as putting an unacceptable food additive on the market or mislabeling a product,” said Neal Fortin, director of the Global Food Law Program. “In addition, recognizing how such laws impact the flow of food and agricultural products across boundaries can help a company expand its global market.”

Many of the students began their careers as scientists and now work in food and agriculture industries, food safety, government and other areas involving international food law, he said. Several hold upper management positions for companies such as Hershey Co., J.M. Smucker Co., Nestle Health Science and Country Fresh.

“From product innovation to the manufacturing process to the successful launch of products, I have to make sure everything works well,” said graduate Christy Kadharmestan, senior formulator for Pharmavite, a dietary supplement manufacturer. “The thought process I’ve developed is already helping me create Nature Made products for international markets.”

In both tracks of the program, students study international food law, regulation and administrative law, and must choose among 13 elective courses, including courses on the food law of various world regions, the regulation of agricultural production and biotechnology law. Students also analyze current issues, such as genetically modified organism labeling law, chemicals in packaging materials, artificial food coloring and hyperactivity, recent food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks.

“The Global Food Law Program enriches MSU’s position as one of the world’s foremost food universities,” said Melanie Jacobs, associate dean for graduate and international programs for the College of Law. “MSU is a leader in food production technologies and food safety, and this program solidifies MSU’s position as a top food law university.”

With six students graduating Friday, the Global Food Law Program will have 13 alumni in its third year of operation. The first program graduate received her degree in spring 2013.

By: Kristen Parker

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