The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have agreed on a joint regulatory framework. The FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation.
A transition from FDA to USDA’s FSIS oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. FSIS will oversee the production and labelling of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.
FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response Frank Yiannas said the organisation recognised that its stakeholders wanted clarity on how to move forward with a regulatory regime.
“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,” said Yiannas.
Meanwhile, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food safety Mindy Brashears said consumers trust the USDA mark of inspection to ensure safe, wholesome and accurately labelled products.
Reacting to the news, the US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) said it was encouraged by USDA’s and the FDA’s joint regulatory oversight of cell-based meats.
“We’re pleased with language in the formal agreement that will allow USDA’s FSIS pre-market labelling authority,” said USCA’s president Kenny Graner.
“However, we’d like to reiterate our position that the term “meat”, and more specifically “beef”, refers to products derived exclusively from the flesh of a bovine animal harvested in the traditional manner. Under the formal agreement, it appears that USDA FSIS will issue the USDA meat inspection stamp to be used on these products.”
The USCA added that it “strongly opposed” the utilisation of any of the three purple-inked USDA meat inspection stamps for cell-cultured products.
“A new stamp should be created for cell-cultured products that is inspected by USDA and by state inspection agencies, using a different format and colour ink on the stamp,” added Graner. “Neither the Federal or State meat inspection stamps should appear on the cell-cultured protein products, retail packaging or wholesale containers.”