Is the FDA up to the task of reviewing the coming onslaught of lab-made cell-based meat and seafood?

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One of the most innovative food products expected to enter U.S. markets in coming years is cell-cultured meat and seafood. Producing these products by culturing cells in tanks and forming them into foods that look and taste like their conventionally produced counterparts is a technological achievement. 

Unfortunately, we have serious concerns that the process the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be planning to use to review the safety of cell-cultured meat and seafood is inadequate and will undermine consumer trust. 

From our perspective, the manufacturing process for cell-cultured meat and seafood is a significant departure from current practice and warrants careful scrutiny. FDA guidance is clear that, for these types of changes, the appropriate review options are a food additive petitions or the voluntary Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) notification process. We strongly recommend FDA rely on these existing options existing options rather than create a new approach.

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While we anticipate that product developers will make safety a top priority, the potential for mistakes is too great and the conflicts of interest too strong for them to unilaterally make the decisions without independent oversight and public scrutiny.

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