Oversight of Cell-Cultured Protein Should be Under FSIS, According to the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act
Senators Jon Tester (D- MT) and Mike Enzi (R- WY) introduced the Food Safety Modernization for Innovation Technologies Act to provide clarity in cell culture technology food products. “Existing food safety laws were drafted long before these technologies were contemplated. Our legislation would create an up-to-date framework in law, so agencies appropriately work together to ensure folks know what they are eating and that it is safe” Enzi stated. This act would confirm that the agreement between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would have legal authority over cell culture technology food products.
The Meat and Poultry Inspection Act indicates that cell culture proteins (CCPs) should be under the oversight of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), while the FDA has a role in ensuring that ingredients used in manufacturing are safe. “Emerging technologies may reshape the food industry in the coming years,” Enzi said, implying the importance of proper regulations.
Animal products made from cell culture technology could be available for purchase in the future. Per the agreement, the FDA would oversee the process of multiplying collected cells to make tissue and all phases of the development and production of all products not derived from livestock or poultry, and the USDA would oversee processing, packaging, and labeling.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) released a statement on the subject, suggesting “When it comes to making products from these cells, only FSIS has the capability to provide continuous, risk-based inspection and apply strict labeling standards that will ensure consumer awareness of what CCP is and how it's produced”. NPPC also stated that in March 2019, the FDA and FSIS signed a formal agreement to regulate CCPs and influence the expertise of both agencies to protect the food supply and provide safe, accurate labeling of products.
In December 2019, Nick Giordano, NPPC Vice President, and Counsel, Global Governmental Affairs stated that oversight established at FSIS is important to the pork industry and “We have no problem with competition; we just want to make sure our producers are on a level playing field. They want to call themselves meat. Fine, but you’re going to get regulated under the same rigorous oversight at that we are at the Food Safety & Inspection Service”.