For several months, the food and agriculture industries have speculated on how the federal government will regulate the process (and products) of cell-cultured animal cells. Last week, we got, at least, a partial answer.
On November 16, 2018, the USDA and FDA announced their intention to “jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry.” In this framework, the FDA would oversee cell collection, cell banks, cell growth and cell differentiation. The USDA would then oversee the production and labeling of the food products.
We don’t expect any further details for a while, as the comment period on how these products should be regulated has been extended through December 26.
Note, however, this agreement could be pre-empted by the House Agriculture-FDA spending bill, H.R. 5961. If passed, this bill would give the USDA exclusive authority to regulate these cell-derived products. Under H.R. 5961, the USDA would be required to “issue regulations prescribing the type and frequency of inspection required for the manufacture and processing of such products, as well as other requirements necessary to prevent the adulteration and misbranding of these products.”
Earlier this month we reported on a Missouri law attempting to criminalize meat substitutes. The Missouri law is being challenged by Tofurky and the Good Food Institute. Stay tuned to Food Fight for updates on whether the November 16 joint announcement will impact the lawsuit.