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Lab-Grown Meat Gets Regulatory Oversight As FDA, USDA Team Up To Oversee Cell-Cultured Food Products

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Two U.S. government agencies are teaming up to oversee the production of food products cultured from cells of livestock and poultry.

Joint Oversight To Ensure Safety Of Lab-Grown Meat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on March 7 that they will share regulation of the so-called lab-grown meat, which scientists produce by multiplying animals cells so they mimic traditional pork, beef, chicken, and fish.

These food products need to be reviewed and approved by both agencies before they can be sold in grocery stores.

Under the agreement on joint oversight, the FDA will regulate the first stage of the production process, which includes cell collection and growth. The agency will then handle off the oversight of production and labeling to the USDA.

The shared regulatory approach can help ensure cell-cultured food products are produced safely and labeled accurately.

Carmen Rottenberg of the USDA said the new label required for the cell-cultured meat won't simply use the terms like hamburger or ground beef.

Meat from cultured animals cells will also undergo inspection just like other meat and poultry products. The inspections are expected to be similar to those for other meat-processing plants, albeit a lot is still unknown since commercial production of these meat products have not yet scaled up.

"Collaboration between USDA and FDA will allow us to draw upon the unique expertise of each agency in addressing the many important technical and regulatory considerations that can arise with the development of animal cell-cultured food products for human consumption," FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas said in a statement.

Better Meat?

Startups that develop cell-cultured meat claim their products are more humane and environmentally friendly compared with traditional meat products since these do not involve raising and slaughtering animals.

Surveys, however, revealed that many consumers are not keen on consuming lab-grown meat. Some think these food products are "unnatural."

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