March 25, 2019

*Update* FSIS and FDA come to agreement on 'fake meat’ production

Update: FSIS and FDA come to agreement on 'fake meat’ production

On Mar. 7, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a formal agreement for how they will jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured proteins, also known as “lab-grown meat” or “fake meat.” 

In a nutshell, the joint regulatory framework will make the FDA responsible for overseeing cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. During the cell harvest stage, responsibility will transfer to the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, which will oversee the production and labeling of human food products derived from the livestock and poultry cells. Read the full document here.

“Consumers trust the USDA mark of inspection to ensure safe, wholesome and accurately labeled products,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Mindy Brashears in a press release. “We look forward to continued collaboration with FDA and our stakeholders to safely regulate these new products and ensure parity in labeling.”

“We recognize that our stakeholders want clarity on how we will move forward with a regulatory regime to ensure the safety and proper labeling of these cell-cultured human food products while continuing to encourage innovation,” added Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. “Collaboration between USDA and FDA will allow us to draw upon the unique expertise of each agency in addressing the many important technical and regulatory considerations that can arise with the development of animal cell-cultured food products for human consumption.”

While Dairy Herd Management reports that livestock and meat groups are “pleased” by the agreement, the new agreement does leave some questions unanswered. It appears that cell-cultured products may receive a traditional meat inspection stamp, which some think may confuse consumers. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has also asked for details on how antibiotics will be used in cell-cultured protein products. The organization has also expressed concerns about food safety risks and believes “premarket consultations to evaluate production processes are lacking in detail,” according to BEEF Magazine.