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International News

Nov 17, 2018
11:28AM

US authorities agree on how to regulate food products cultured from animal cells

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US authorities on Friday agreed on how to regulate food products cultured from animal cells - paving the way to get so-called "lab meat" on American plates.

A joint statement said the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration agreed to share regulation of cell-cultured food products.

While technical details have yet to be confirmed, the FDA would oversee the collection and differentiation of cells -- when stem cells develop to specialized cells -- while USDA would oversee production and labeling of food products.  The question of whether to approve cell-cultured food products has never really arisen in the US.

In fact, several niche "lab-meat" startups already exist, but production costs are very high and nobody has a product that is ready to sell yet.

Californian company Just, known for its eggless mayonnaise, has said previously it plans to sell cell-cultured meat by the end of this year.

Others such as Memphis Meats and Mosa Meat, in the Netherlands, are working to get production costs down -- with some backing from the agri-food industry.

The backers of "lab meat" argue avoiding slaughtering animals will reduce both suffering and greenhouse emissions -- and is a sustainable option to feed growing populations hungry for protein.

But they are locked in disagreement with farming organizations about whether such products can indeed be called "meat".

The authorities have made no statement on that -- but the US Cattlemen's Association welcomed the news.
 

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