Brian Sylvester, J.D., is a Partner in Perkins Coie LLP's Washington D.C. office and a former Attorney-Advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Marketing, Regulatory, and Food Safety Programs Division's Office of the General Counsel. At Perkins Coie, Brian focuses his practice on regulatory matters before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the USDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and analogous state regulatory bodies. He is a leading authority on food technology regulation and serves as a trusted advisor to global brands, startups, life science companies, investors, and trade associations.

Brian is a prolific author and frequent speaker at industry-leading events in the U.S., the EU, Israel, and other parts of the world. He is regularly called upon to offer insights on trending legal issues by preeminent industry and global publications. He holds a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a Bachelor's degree in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Dartmouth College.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Android

In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak with Brian [30:41] about:
  • How the 2023 California Food Safety Act, which bans several additives common in processed foods, might affect companies’ food formulations nationwide
  • Economic and other logistical challenges for companies adjusting for the California Food Safety Act and the feasibility of achieving compliance by the January 2027 deadline
  • Other food additives and packaging chemicals under increasing scrutiny that companies may want to begin addressing in their products in light of class-action lawsuits
  • Precedents set by the California Food Safety Act for other states to enact similar bans and for consumer beliefs to more heavily influence food law
  • How the California Food Safety Act may be influencing the conversation around food additives legislation at FDA, evidenced by recent statements from the agency about two chemicals banned by the legislation
  • The likelihood of industry lobbying and litigation in response to the California Food Safety Act, and the responses already made by industry and consumer groups criticizing the precedent it sets of circumventing science-based decision-making 
  • Brian’s thoughts on the actual contribution of the California Food Safety Act to food safety and public health, and how the ban was shaped by advocacy groups and consumers
  • The likelihood of a patchwork of state regulations following the California Food Safety Act and the need for FDA to step in to prevent conflicting food additives regulation nationwide
  • Possible implications if New York Senate Bill A6424 were to pass, which is pending legislation that is nearly identical to the original draft of the California Food Safety Act.

News and Resources


FDA Publishes First CORE Annual Report Summarizing Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigations [4:47]

The Incident Command System and Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigations

Outbreak Investigations of Cyclospora cayetanensis Infections 2013–2020: Progress Made and Challenges Remaining

FDA: Reckitt/Mead Johnson Nutrition Voluntarily Recalls Certain Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Powdered Infant Formula Products [12:48]

Reckitt: Recall Alert: Select Batches of Nutramigen Powder

New Insights About Salmonella Interactions With Environmental Biofilms May Lead to Better Food Safety Strategies [17:30]

High Levels of Toxic Plasticizers Phthalates, Bisphenols Found in Nearly All Foods in U.S. [19:48]

How Leadership Style Influences Employees' Likelihood to Voice Food Safety Concerns [26:31]

Interview Resources

California Food Safety Act Signed Into Law, Officially Banning Four Toxic Additives by 2027

Following California’s Example, New York State Bill Would Ban Five Most “Pervasive and Harmful” Chemical Food Additives

FDA Proposes to Stop Allowing Brominated Vegetable Oil in Food, Says Red Dye 3 May Be Next

Register for the 2024 Food Safety Summit!

Taking place May 6–9, 2024 in Rosemont, Illinois. Register before March 31 for a 10% early bird discount rate, plus use promo code “FSMatters15” for an extra 15% off registration. Yes, that’s a total discount of 25%!

We Want to Hear from You!

Please send us your questions and suggestions to