LAWS20010 Food Law and Policy

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2017:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.Show/hide details
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 24-Jul-2017 to 22-Oct-2017
Assessment Period End 17-Nov-2017
Last date to Self-Enrol 04-Aug-2017
Census Date 31-Aug-2017
Last date to Withdraw without fail 22-Sep-2017

Timetable can be viewed here.
For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours (one 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour workshop per week)
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support.


Prof Christine Parker


Contact Stop 1

Subject Overview:

Can law help our food systems deliver safe, healthy, sustainable, fair, affordable food? This subject examines how law impacts on food systems and whether it can help solve difficult problems at different stages of food production and consumption.

Students will learn about the range of different laws and regulations in Australia and around the world that impact on food systems through analysis of how law and regulation addresses conflicts and problems that arise at four overlapping phases of the food system.

The subject will use a case study approach. Each week we will use a different case study of a food system issue to examine how the law applies to that problem and evaluate how well the law addresses multiple competing values and perspectives in relation to food and law. Some examples of questions we might address are included below.

  • Land and agriculture:
    • How are conflicts over the use of land between indigenous land rights, cattle grazing and environmental advocates of biodiversity, habitat protection and preserving the forests be resolved?
    • How can we make sure chemical fertilisers and pesticides are not poisoning farmers, consumers, the land and the water? How much is too much?
    • Can law help us work out when it is safe to use new technologies such as genetically modified organisms?
    • Should the law stop houses being built on farm land?
  • Production and Processing:
    • What standards should there be to make sure farm animals are happy? Is it possible to farm happy animals? What standards make sure animals are not treated cruelly?
    • What ingredients and products should not be allowed to go into food and packaging?
    • Can junk food manufacturers be forced to make their food healthier?
  • Distribution and Retail:
    • What should be on the food label – traffic lights, GMO, fair trade, animal welfare, food miles?
    • Are the supermarkets too powerful? Should the power of big food corporations be better controlled? How far does my food travel and can we find ways to reduce it?
    • Are hospitality workers treated fairly?
  • Consumption:
    • Should soft drink and fast food companies be sued for ‘causing’ obesity?
    • Who is responsible when there is salmonella in my salad and listeria in my lettuce?
    • Is there a right to (cheap/healthy/sustainable/safe) food?
    • Can the law do anything about food waste and overconsumption?
    • To what extent should consumers be responsible for food systems through their choices?

The subject takes a holistic approach to the food system and the connections between the various stages of the food system and between issues e.g. between local and global, between the individual and the food system and between individual consumption decisions and the ‘big picture’ of public health, ecological sustainability and fairness.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will learn to:

  • Identify the different stakeholders impacted by conflicts and problems in relation to safe, healthy, sustainable, fair, and affordable food systems;
  • Recognise different laws and regulations in Australia and around the world that can be used to address and resolve conflicts and problems in food systems;
  • Investigate different legal options for resolving conflicts and problems in food systems;
  • Evaluate how well different laws address the needs and concerns of different food system stakeholders and help the food system operate more sustainably, healthily, affordably;
  • Make a persuasive argument about how law should work to resolve competing stakeholder interests and address the objectives of safe, healthy, sustainable, fair, affordable food; and
  • Identify gaps and opportunities for reform in the way in which the law impacts on the food system and addresses stakeholder concerns.
  • Report: Stakeholder analysis of a food law issue (1,500 words), due in Week 6 (20%);
  • 2 hour examination comprising of short answer questions and one long essay question addressing a case study, during the examination period (80%).

The due date of the above assessment will be available to students via the Assessment Schedule on the LMS Community.

Prescribed Texts:
  • Printed subject materials will be available from the University Co-Op Bookshop.

Electronic copies of the required readings will also be available via the LMS subject page.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

A student who has successfully completed the subject should have:

  • Developed strategies for responding to legal issues or considerations in matters involving food;
  • Developed oral skills through contributing to tutorial discussion groups
  • Developed analytical style writing skills through preparation for tutorials and the assignment; and
  • Developed an attitude to learning which views pre-reading, reflection and class discussion as essential to learning.

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