An estimated 40 companies worldwide are in the race to bring to market cell-based meat — "clean meat" in the eyes of proponents and "fake meat" according to ranchers. Asked if the product qualifies as meat, Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Mindy Brashears responded, "This is something we will be talking about. That is an important priority for us."
In a step that moves a new industry closer to commercial reality, the premier federal food-safety agencies agreed on Thursday on how to jointly regulate cell-based meat, a laboratory-grown protein that farm groups call “fake meat.” The FDA will oversee cell collection and growth, while the USDA will oversee harvesting and processing, and have final say over labeling.
Chief executive Uma Valeti says Memphis Meats, the self-declared leader in a worldwide race to develop cell-based meat, "will be ready to go to market tomorrow," albeit on a small scale, once the U.S. regulatory framework is in place. "Selling even the first plate of meat to a consumer is a big deal," said Valeti.
When cell-based meat appears in grocery stores, it should be labeled so that consumers know it came from a lab and not from livestock, two cattle-state senators told the Trump administration’s nominee to run the USDA’s food safety unit on Wednesday.
The USDA and FDA will both oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Friday, ending a dispute about the future oversight of the nascent industry.
The two major food-safety regulators in the federal government will hear from the public on Oct. 23 and 24 on how to handle cell-based meat, a technological innovation that is nearing the marketplace. The meeting, announced on Monday, follows suggestions by the meat processors and Memphis Meats, a leader in the nascent industry, that the administration clarify lines of authority over cell-based meat.
The U.S. meat industry and nascent competitor Memphis Meats agreed on a standard name — “cell-based meat and poultry” — for food produced from lab-cultured animal cells on Thursday and proposed joint FDA and USDA regulation of cell-based meat.