Seven groups that represent meat and poultry producers, as well as processors, wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to place cell-cultured protein products under USDA regulation.
The meat industry website Meating Place Dot Com says the groups want these products held to the same high standards for food safety and labeling that meat and poultry are held to under the USDA regulatory system.
In the letter, the groups say, “Cell-cultured products that purport to be meat or poultry should be subject to the same comprehensive inspection system that governs amenable meat and poultry products to ensure that they are wholesome and safe for public consumption.”
The groups also want the products regulated in a way that ensures they are labeled and marketed in a manner that levels the playing field in the marketplace. The groups also say the Food and Drug Administration tried to assert itself as the primary regulator of cell-cultured products at a public meeting the USDA was excluded from.
The groups say this is inconsistent with meat and poultry inspection statutes, as well as a White House Agency reorganization plan that consolidates food safety inspection duties into a single USDA agency.
WASHINGTON – Today Danielle Beck, director of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, used remarks at a public meeting to advocate for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversight of lab-grown fake meat products. Hosted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the stated goal of the public meeting was to provide interested parties and the public with an opportunity to comment on the technology and regulations related to lab-grown fake meat technology. However, despite existing federal laws which designate USDA as the primary oversight body of lab-grown fake meat, USDA was not afforded a role in the public meeting.
“NCBA applauds the pointed questions FDA has posed regarding risks, hazards and manufacturing methods of lab-grown meat food products,” said Beck. “However, the appropriate agency to ask the questions under discussion today is the agency that will ultimately have jurisdiction over lab-grown meat food products. Any fair reading of the law places lab-grown meat food products within the primary jurisdiction of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.”
Beck also explained why USDA jurisdiction is crucial for ensuring that lab-grown fake meat products are safe for consumers. Continuous inspection that draws on the scientific expertise of USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service provides the most stringent oversight of any perishable meat food product.
“Critical food safety oversight objectives can only be accomplished if USDA complies with the law and asserts jurisdiction over cultured meat food products,” Beck added.
Many promoters of lab-grown fake meat have claimed that USDA oversight of lab-grown fake meat is unnecessary because animals are not being harvested. In fact, USDA inspection is required for all federal meat plants, whether harvesting occurs or not. USDA inspectors provide daily oversight in facilities where meat is processed into products such as ground beef, hot dogs or deli meats.