My take on it all

“Clean Meat” – the name confusion and name calling continues.

A joint USDA/FDA meeting on clean meat was held in Washington D.C. last week and it appears that progress was patchy.

The most promising part is that it was a joint USDA/FDA meeting, which could mean that the two organisations may be able to settle their differences. Apart from that we have the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) calling the product “lab-grown fake meat” and wants it “subject to strong, daily inspection” by USDA. The basis for that is unclear as the product is more akin to beer or yogurt than an abattoir or boning room! Simply applying the same rules to clean meat as conventional meat is patently ridiculous as the processes bear no resemblance to one another. There undoubtedly needs to be appropriate legislation around these products as there would be for any new food process. But these need to be appropriate to the product.

Further we have Kevin Kester, president of the NCBA, saying that “Beef producers welcome competition, but product labels and marketing must be based on sound science, not the misleading claims of anti-animal agriculture activists.” So name calling and pigeonholing is the order of the day. Whatever the motivation of clean meat companies the science is what should rule the day, not politics and powerful lobby groups. A forlorn hope?

Looks like the conventional meat industry, instead of looking for the opportunities in these new products are intent upon taking the same tired old path. That is, try by legislation, name, calling and misinformation to slow or halt the progress of a potentially competing new technology. Look how well that went for the music and taxi industries!

As for what the product should be called your opinion is as good as mine! Clean meat is a red rag to a bull (pun intended) to the conventional industry and we need an alternative. Letting go of that would solve the issue of the conventional meat industry’s outrage that their product is, by implication, “dirty”. Surely though there can be no doubt that if the cells come from a certain species the finished product it is that species! Even if “meat” is from a dead animal beef is cells from that animal, is it not? Therefore the product grown from cells of that species can be labelled a such.

Regulatory regime for cell-cultured food is on agenda for 2019

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