USA – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have reached a consensus that both the agencies should jointly oversee the regulation of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry.

The joint regulatory framework will see FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation.

A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.

Both the agencies are participating in refining the technical details of the framework, including robust collaboration and information sharing between them to allow each to carry out our respective roles.

This regulatory framework will leverage both the FDA’s experience regulating cell-culture technology and living biosystems and the USDA’s expertise in regulating livestock and poultry products for human consumption.

Through joint efforts, the regulatory agencies will draw on their expertise in various field to ensure the safety of the products.

“USDA and FDA are confident that this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products.

Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the Administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary,” said a statement from FDA.

The agreement was a result of a public meeting called by USDA and FDA to liberate on the use of cell-cultured food products cell lines of livestock and poultry.

In the recent past, a debate has risen over whether the industry should be regulated by the USDA, which oversees meat products at the point of slaughter, or the FDA, which is charged with regulating foods made from ‘components’ of food.

Some of the biggest players in the meat industry including National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) were pushing for USDA to regulate the clean meat industry.

Burning issues not yet addressed

While the joint regulation framework means no new legislation is needed to regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry, important details regarding ‘clean meat’ remains unsettled.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act which defines ‘meat food product’ as ‘any product capable of use as human food which is made wholly or in part from any meat or other portion of the carcass’ does not clearly encompass food from tissue cultured cells.

Beef companies are also seeking a regulation to prevent clean meat companies from selling their products as meat, and if they are sold as meat, others speculate they could be regulated as meat products.

Clean meat which threatens the livestock industry has resulted to a pull and push game between meat and ‘clean-meat’ producers, all pushing for a favourable regulation.