Kitchen Council hosted its first educational module on June 11, a pilot for its upcoming launch of a new educational program series. The event titled, What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You, took a survey look at the legal landscape important to a food entrepreneur. During the two-hour session, Sandra Morar, an experienced food lawyer at McGrath North in Omaha as well as a Kitchen Council Board Member, led a group of entrepreneurs through several legal topic areas including basic food laws, business entity formation, contract issues, and tax and insurance considerations.
A valuable asset to the Kitchen Council community, Sandra brings a wealth of knowledge about the regulatory issues of the food industry. She began her legal career in food 30 years ago with her client, Conagra Brands. As she shared with us, food was a very different industry three decades ago, with little regulation. An early task was to work with the Food and Drug Administration to define “healthy” in the regulations consistent with her client’s brand Healthy Choice. It is incredible to think that something as commonplace in our food vernacular as “healthy” was undefined in the food industry until the end of the 20th century. What this example shows is that the laws follow trends and updates to food regulations are important to those who make a business in food. Always on point, Sandra’s interest in the more recent trend of “local food” is what drives her involvement in the food entrepreneur community today.
Food entrepreneurs were the majority of program participants. Many cited discovery as a key reason for attending, a chance to get an overview of the legal issues that as entrepreneurs in food they should be aware of but have little knowledge about. There was a lot of participation throughout the presentation, with Sandra taking questions from the group throughout the workshop. The stage of participant businesses varied, which made for rich discussion throughout the program. Seasoned entrepreneurs shared their own insurance and regulation compliance experiences, pairing their industry experience with Sandra’s legal expertise for entrepreneurs whose concepts are still pre-launch. Overall it was a great evening, filled with high quality information and an open forum for questions. Before leaving, each participant was given a digital resource bank that provides easy reference to specific regulations pertinent to each of their businesses.