FDA and USDA Will Jointly Regulate Lab-Grown Meats
In a recent statement, the USDA and FDA declared that they will jointly regulate the production and sale of lab-grown (also known as cell-cultured) meat products. This is the first food product that will be regulated by the two departments together, and the statement insists that “this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products.”
Currently, the FDA is responsible for almost all food products in America, while the USDA oversees meat, poultry and eggs.
The statement also marks the oversight transfer point at the “cell harvesting” stage of production. The FDA will be responsible for cell collection and growth, while the USDA will oversee production and labeling. This agreement leaves much to be worked out in terms of how the two organizations will work together. Given that lab-grown meat is a highly controversial and emerging science, additional attention will be needed to ensure a safe food supply.
One question that still hangs in the air is whether lab-grown meat will be called “meat” at all. Much like in the milk-alternative industry, interest groups representing the production of beef have a vested interest in plant-based competitors not being able to utilize the same terms. According to Food Dive, the USDA’s involvement in regulation makes it “much more likely that these products will be labeled ‘meat.’” Will lab-grown meat be called “myeat”? We’ll see.
The collaboration of these two organizations could lead to changes in the field of food safety. Creating a regulatory framework around lab-grown meat could pave the way for future integration, bridging the divide between the USDA and FDA. Streamlined regulations would be beneficial for both food producers and consumers.
That famous example – that the FDA regulates a cheese pizza, but once it has pepperoni, the USDA takes over – could be no longer.