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Mandatory regulations sought for cell-based meat

TAGS: Policy
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North American Meat Institute joins forces in writing letter to USDA with coalition representing makers of cell-based/cultured meat.

The Alliance for Meat, Poultry & Seafood Innovation (AMPS Innovation), an industry coalition representing the makers of cell-based/cultured meat, poultry and seafood products, and the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), a trade association whose members process the vast majority of U.S. beef, pork, lamb and turkey, sent a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling on the agency to support mandatory labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products and to solicit input on what that labeling should look like through an advance notice of public rule-making.

Although these products have not yet come to market in the United States, market entry is fast approaching, and there is significant interest in the regulation of these products, particularly regarding applicable labeling requirements,” the letter said. “The companies developing these products are committed to supporting and complying with principles that ensure labeling is truthful and not misleading, does not disparage cell-based/cultured or conventional products, enables consumers to distinguish between such products and is consistent with the safety and nutritional qualities of the product.”

USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) intends to propose regulations on the labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products and coordinate with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on joint principles on product labeling and claims.

Under a joint framework for regulation of cell-based/cultured meat, poultry and seafood products, which FSIS and FDA agreed to in March 2019, the two agencies will work together to ensure the safety and labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products. Among other provisions of the framework, FSIS will have oversight of the labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry, as it does for all meat and poultry sold in the U.S., while FDA will oversee the labeling of cell-based/cultured seafood, as it does for most seafood sold in the U.S.

In a recent public presentation, the agencies committed to joint principles for product labeling and labeling claims. The letter does not address seafood specifically, but it was shared with FDA to support continued collaboration between the two agencies’ responsibilities and processes. Separately, on Oct. 6, 2020, FDA issued a request for information regarding the labeling of cell-based/cultured seafood products.

In the joint letter, AMPS Innovation and NAMI recognized that it is possible and likely that cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products may be ready to come to market before FSIS’s rule-making process concludes. “For such FSIS-regulated products, we understand that the products will be subject to FSIS prior label review and claims must be adequately substantiated,” the letter stated.

The letter commended FSIS and FDA for their continued leadership and encouraged both agencies to continue to work in close coordination to ensure consistency in labeling across the industry. In just two years, the agencies have engaged stakeholders and taken important steps to establish a clear, predictable and timely approach to overseeing the production of these products within the existing regulatory frameworks for meat, poultry and seafood.

“In doing so, the agencies have affirmed yet again our nation’s role as the world leader in protein production and responsible, science-based food innovation,” the letter said. “As other countries look to develop principles and standards for cell-based/cultured meat, poultry and seafood products, it is critical that the U.S. government maintain its leadership role.”

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