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US consults on labelling of cell-based poultry

Views on the labelling of meat and poultry products using cultured cells derived from animals are being sought by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has launched a 60-day consultation.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is asking for feedback on a range of issues concerning cell-based meat. Photo: Roel Dijkstra
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is asking for feedback on a range of issues concerning cell-based meat. Photo: Roel Dijkstra

Sandra Eskin, deputy undersecretary for food safety, said responses would be taken into account as part of new labelling legislation of meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is asking for feedback on a range of issues, including:
• Product name – Should the product name of a meat or poultry product comprised of or containing cultured animal cells differentiate the product from slaughtered meat or poultry by informing consumers the product was made using animal cell culture technology? If yes, what criteria should the agency consider or use to differentiate the products? If not, why not?
• Terminology – What should the product be called, i.e., cell cultured or cell cultivated?
• Economic data.
• Any consumer research related to labelling nomenclature for products using animal cell culture technology.

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Thousands of comments

FSIS has already received thousands of comments on the topic in response to a 2018 joint public meeting with FDA regarding 2 petitions for rulemaking, one from the US Cattleman’s Association and Harvard Law School's Animal Law and Policy Clinic.

In the past, the National Chicken Council said it would like to see FSIS work closely with the FDA to leverage each agency’s knowledge and expertise of cell-cultured meat products. And the National Turkey Federation said it was vital that consumers should not be misled, deceived or left out of the loop about what they were eating. They were both among 7 farming organisations to write to former president Donald Trump stressing that cell-cultured protein needed to be regulated by USDA.

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First country to approve lab-grown meat

Last year, Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat grown in bioreactors. The chicken bites, produced by US company Eat Just, passed a safety review by the Singapore Food Agency, At the time, spokesman Josh Tetrick told the Guardian newspaper: “I think the approval is one of the most significant milestones in the food industry in the last handful of decades.”