Profile: Sara Zborovski
In the lead up to the 3rd Annual Canadian Food Law & Policy Conference (September 25-27, 2018), we will be profiling leading Canadian practitioners and scholars of food law and policy. This is part of our mission to provide opportunities for knowledge sharing and diffusion within the growing field of Food Law and Policy.
Name: Sara Zborovski
Title: Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright (Toronto)
Education: LLB (University of Toronto)
How does your work involve food law and/or policy?
I sometimes call myself a “food lawyer” but really, I’m a Health Canada regulatory and commercial lawyer. I work with all of the industries regulated by Health Canada, including a number of food and beverage companies. I help these clients understand the legislation and regulations that apply to their business operations in Canada, including the making, marketing, sale and distribution of their products. I also work with companies in developing and implementing market access strategies, and in ensuring post-market compliance, including in the area of food safety. Part of what I do also includes keeping my clients informed of regulatory developments and helping them make submissions to government on areas of proposed reform.
How did you get involved in food law and/or policy?
I have always been a Health Canada regulatory lawyer. In my earliest career, I focussed on the pharmaceutical industry. I made my way into food and beverages about 8-10 years into my practice.
What skills have allowed you to be successful in this area?
Regulatory law is a very niche practice which requires a deep understanding of the legal and business realities within which companies operate. I’ve been very fortunate to have been permitted to take a very “industry focused” approach to my practice from Day 1. That has allowed me to really understand the issues that are important and relevant to my clients. Additionally, a general knowledge and familiarity with our food and drug laws doesn’t hurt! I’ve been focused on the same two Acts for the majority of my career: the Food and Drugs Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – thankfully there are many, many sets of regulations under those Acts to keep things interesting!
What do you see as emerging issues in food law and policy?
For sure, the implementation of the Safe Food for Canadians Act. The Canadian food industry has been waiting for a long time for this new regime to come into force (for better or for worse). And second is without a doubt the legalization of adult-use cannabis on October 17th and the requirement for a regulatory regime for edibles (foods and beverages containing cannabis) within 1 year of that date.
What is your favourite part of working in food law?
My work with clients! I love learning about the business and helping them to navigate through the regulatory regime(s!) to achieve their strategic outcomes.
Do you have any advice to lawyers/students interested in engaging in food law?
Number 1: try to do something you are passionate about. It’s a long career, and if you can find something that you really want to do, it makes it much easier and more fun. Number 2: never underestimate the importance of networking – get to know (and keep in touch with!) lots of people who play in your space. And, number 3: think outside the box, both in terms of counseling your clients and thinking about your career. There is a lot of room for growth in food law and the more open to it you are, the more rewarding your career is likely to be.