My take on it all

FDA/USDA to jointly regulate cell-based meat

The FDA and USDA have issued a statement that they will jointly regulate cell based meat. According to their statement “…FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.”

It’s great to see some sensible progress which takes us one step closer to bringing certainty to the cell based meat industry. The danger is that the USDA will determine the labeling and judging by the conventional industry’s response this will be a major battleground! Contrast the NCBA’s insistence on using the term “lab-produced fake meat” in its reply and the use of “cell-based meat” in the GFI response.

Major cell-based meat companies agreed in September 2018 to drop the term “clean meat”, which so enrages much of the conventional meat industry. Do we see this conciliatory approach reciprocated by major conventional meat bodies, nope! 

I’d love to see delegations from the conventional industries come to cell-based conferences. Not for some sort of “conversion” to vegetarian values but to see for themselves the opportunities for their industries. There’s so much potential for cell-based meat and other products to complement the conventional industry for years, if not decades to come. Do all livestock and poultry farmers say their job is raising and killing animals? Probably not, they’re in the business of feeding the planet, why not take full advantage of new technologies to do this?

My message to the conventional meat industries, from my 32+ years in the conventional meat and poultry industries, is get involved!

For the conventional industry to use Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt as the go to strategy is fatally flawed. This strategy has failed in so many other industries challenged by new technologies.

The big winners here are the cellular aquaculture companies like BluNalu and Finless Foods, who will continue to be solely regulated by the FDA.

It’ll be very interesting to follow the regulatory development of cell-based meats vs cell-based aquaculture products. If the meat segment wallows in controversy whilst the aquaculture segment powers ahead, this will be very telling.

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