Viewpoint: FDA schedules public meeting to address regulatory issues surrounding emerging alt-meat industry

Impossible Burger Vegan

So-called cellular agriculture raises numerous questions about whether the regulations enacted to ensure food safety for conventional animal foods are adequate when applied to alt-meat products.

(Spoiler alert: They’re not).

Because of that uncertainty — as well in response to industry and public pressure — the Food and Drug Administration is planning a public meeting on July 12 to “gather comments and research on foods produced using animal cell culture technology,” according to an agency news release.

That is appropriate, because this is new technology with minimal data on potential food-safety threats.

And by “new,” I mean “complex.”

How about starting with nomenclature? There is currently a controversy over what to call these alt-meat products. The entrepreneurs branding and positioning their creations want to identify them as “beef” or “chicken,” even though they’re not derived from conventional animal agriculture. To avoid problems down the road, if and when such products become price-competitive and thus more widely available, unique names ought to be required so that there is a clear line between meat from livestock and alt-meat from a factory.

Safety considerations? You bet these are important, and that’s why FDA should cede oversight authority to USDA, which has the inspectors, the HACCP structure and the statutory muscle to properly regulate products whose potential food-safety threats are as yet unknown.

Without question, the animal agriculture industry needs to be the most forceful and credible voice at FDA’s meeting next month and interested parties can attend in person or via webcast.

Read full, original post: Dan Murphy: FDA (Finally) Slots Alt-Meat Summit

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