The California legislature has passed a law amending the state’s slack-fill statute for food containers subject to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Assembly Bill 2632 (AB 2632), which Governor Jerry Brown signed into effect on September 19, 2018, revises the slack-fill statute by creating four new so-called “safe harbor” provisions, under which empty space in a container is not considered nonfunctional slack-fill. These new safe harbor provisions provide additional clarity on the types of food packages that will not be considered to contain nonfunctional slack-fill and may provide some relief to the food industry from the recent surge in purported class law suits seeking damages for allegedly slack-filled packaging. This memorandum summarizes the changes to the state slack-fill statute.

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Photo of Steve Steinborn Steve Steinborn

Partner, Washington, DC

Steven Steinborn literally wrote the book on food labeling as a principal author of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) labeling guide. On top of that, he offers clients 28 years of experience in guiding informed business decisions, taking into account food laws and other regulations, as well as the environment in which companies operate. Representing food processors, restaurant chains, foodservice operators, ingredient suppliers, and trade associations, Steven focuses on advertising, labeling, and food safety. He is also a strong advocate in enforcement matters brought by the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the USDA, and state regulators as well.

From small start-ups to established international brands, Steven understands the dynamics of the food industry. He brings this knowledge to bear on cutting-edge issues ranging from claim substantiation to potential food safety situations. He is also regularly consulted in bringing and defending competitor challenges, and represents companies before the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division. Keenly aware of the current litigation climate, Steven works closely with marketers in exploring all avenues to reach important business objectives.

Beyond the food industry, Steven routinely advises consumer product companies on reporting and potential recall situations arising under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. His practice covers a diverse range of industries, including children’s toys, household appliances, infant products, gas grills, furnaces, consumer electronics, computers, printers, handheld devices, and child-resistant packaging.

Steven is a frequent speaker on innovation and legal compliance and has authored numerous articles on a range of subjects, from the latest developments in the regulation of genetically engineered foods to important developments that impact food advertising.

Photo of Leigh Barcham Leigh Barcham

Associate, Washington, DC

Leigh Barcham provides business-oriented legal and policy solutions to food and agriculture companies and trade associations. She advises clients on state and federal regulatory issues that may arise throughout the entire food production line from farm to table. Leigh also guides clients in consumer products industries as they navigate federal advertising laws and regulations.
When she joined Hogan Lovells, Leigh brought with her more than five years of public policy experience. A part-time student by night and a law clerk by day, Leigh worked throughout law school at a firm in Washington, D.C., focusing on legislation and federal regulation affecting the energy industry. Before law school she served as a policy analyst for international affairs and climate change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.