If meat is grown in a lab, can it be labeled as authentic meat?
And if not, then what?
That’s what the Food Safety and Inspection Service hopes to nail down — and is seeking your input.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have teamed up to inspect whether meat from “cultured animal cells” can be labeled as real meat.
Some questions posed include:
- “Should the product name of a meat or poultry product comprised of or containing cultured animal cells differentiate the product from slaughtered meat or poultry by informing consumers the product was made using animal cell culture technology? If yes, what criteria should the agency consider or use to differentiate the products? If no, why not?”
“What term(s), if any, should be in the product name of a food comprised of or containing cultured animal cells to convey the nature or source of the food to consumers? (e.g., “cell cultured” or “cell cultivated.”)“
The production of lab-grown meat works like this: Scientists take stem cells from living animals, including livestock, poultry, or seafood, and bathe them in a “liquid containing nutrients to help them duplicate” before placing them in a device for growing organisms, according to WebMD.
Once the cells develop into “unstructured” meat, scientists find ways to make them into presentable meat products, WedMD reported.
For example, some companies are using the “scaffolding” technique “made from soy protein, gelatin, or other sources to shape the lab-grown meat,” according to the online publisher.
The FDA says it will be responsible for regulating “cell collection and growth” before letting the USDA handle oversight and production of meat inspections.
Now you have the chance to weigh in before officials make their verdict.
The comment period will be open for 60 days, starting Sept. 3.
“This ANPR (advance notice of proposed rulemaking) is an important step forward in ensuring the appropriate labeling of meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, in a news release. “We want to hear from stakeholders and will consider their comments as we work on a proposed regulation for labeling these products.”
A 2018 Michigan State University poll found about one-third of Americans would purchase lab-grown meat — including 51% of those ages 18 to 29 and 60% of those 30 to 39.