The A-Z Encyclopedia of Food Controversies and the Law

by Elizabeth M. Williams and Stephanie Jane Carter


Food-borne bacteria are reportedly responsible for 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Foodstuffs from China, now the largest exporter of consumables in the world, have been found to be laced with banned pesticides, antibiotics, and carcinogens, or coated in bacteria. Just what is our legal system doing to keep us safe?

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Cover image for The A-Z Encyclopedia of Food Controversies and the Law

December 2010


Pages 646
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/Law

This two-volume set is a broad compendium of the law, policies, and legal influences that affect the food on our plates today.

As food increasingly impacts our health and our wallets, we need to understand the enormous effect of law—both U.S. law and international regulations—on the safety and availability of the food we eat. The A-Z Encyclopedia of Food Controversies and the Law was compiled to help readers do just that.

The most comprehensive work covering food and law, the encyclopedia surveys laws related to organics, obesity, and fair trade. It tackles the intersection of law and religious belief, for example with kosher and halal foods, as well as controversies over labeling practices and consumer protection in general. And it looks at the relationship of class to food, exposing poor urban areas that possess few sources of fresh food so that residents are forced to rely on convenience stores and fast food for nutrition. As background, the set also presents a basic history of food-related law to show us how we got where we are.


  • Alphabetically arranged entries describe topics related to the intersection of law and food
  • An appendix offers examples of legislation, court cases, regulations, and international treaties related to food
  • A timeline shows the development of the law of food in the United States
  • A bibliography lists additional materials for reference


  • Outlines the legal system and how it affects food and food policy
  • Covers both U.S. and international legal influences on the food Americans eat
  • Looks at lawsuits related to food, such as suits to ban soft drinks from schools and the question of whether an individual can sue a food manufacturer or restaurant for making them fat
  • Emphasizes that the more we understand how we can affect food-related laws, the more control we have over our lives and our health
Author Info

Elizabeth M. Williams is a lawyer and president of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, New Orleans, LA. She has written numerous articles about food and law.

Stephanie Jane Carter is administrative director of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, New Orleans, LA.



"Academic libraries supporting food law, food science, hospitality, or home-economics courses may want to consider this encyclopedia, as may larger public libraries with comprehensive consumer collections."Booklist

"This book of food controversies and law is a timely addition to the literature . . . . This encyclopedia could be useful as an introduction to the subject of food controversies and the law."Choice

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