Photo of Brian P. Sylvester


J.D., Cornell Law School

B.A., cum laude, Dartmouth College

Law Journals

General Editor, Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy

Bar and Court Admissions

District of Columbia Bar

New York Bar

Brian counsels clients on a range of matters involving USDA and FDA regulatory issues with an emphasis on food & beverage, agricultural biotechnology and veterinary biologics. He has particular experience navigating every stage of the production and distribution lifecycle – from premarket clearance through manufacturing, advertising, labeling, and recalls. Brian regularly advocates for clients facing adverse regulatory determinations, including USDA Notices of Violations, FDA Warning Letters, and other actual or threatened enforcement actions. He also regularly counsels corporations and industry trade associations on strategies to shape federal and state policies and legislation.

Earlier in his career, Brian was a regulatory lawyer at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Brian’s years of combined public- and private-sector industry experience positions him to assist his clients with achieving their business objectives for a range of commodities regulated by the USDA and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as analogous state and global regulatory bodies. Brian is keyed in to the increasingly complex and high-stakes regulatory environment confronting FDA- and USDA-regulated entities. He is a frequent speaker on trending regulatory topics and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and a number of industry-leading publications.

Representative Experience

  • Advising USDA-regulated companies on compliance and enforcement issues arising under federal statutes administered by various USDA regulatory agencies, including the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), APHIS, Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS), the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the National Organic Program (NOP).
  • Obtaining appropriate authorizations from USDA’s APHIS to facilitate the import, transit, and release of regulated animal products, veterinary biologics, plants, plant products, pests, and genetically engineered organisms.
  • Advising food, beverage, and dietary supplement companies on labeling and claims compliance, as well as corresponding consumer fraud or competitor litigation risks.
  • Counseling food and beverage industry clients on regulatory obligations pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
  • Counseling food and beverage companies through recalls and market withdrawals to stem business disruption, cost, and damage to brands.
  • Advising restaurants and food companies regarding the new FDA menu labeling requirements.
  • Providing strategic legislative and policy advice to trade associations and corporations concerning FDA- and USDA-regulated products.
  • Preparing “Self-GRAS” positions on new food ingredients and additives.
  • Preparing premarket filings for submission to the FDA and relevant global authorities to support regulatory clearances for novel food ingredients and substances used in food packaging materials and processing equipment.
  • Conducting regulatory due diligence to support transactions involving acquisitions of companies that market USDA- and FDA-regulated products.

Professional Experience

  • Private law practice (2014-2018)
  • Attorney-Advisor, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the General Counsel, Marketing, Regulatory and Food Safety Programs Division (2009-2014)
  • Private law practice (2008-2009)


  • Fellow, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) (2019)
  • Food and Drug Law Institute
  • National Bar Association
  • Vice President, Cornell Black Lawyers Alumni Network
  • Board of Trustees, Harmony DC Public Charter Schools

News & Insights