The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.

FSIS and FDA released a formal agreement to address the regulatory oversight of human food produced using this new technology. The formal agreement describes the oversight roles and responsibilities for both agencies and how the agencies will collaborate to regulate the development and entry of these products into commerce. This shared regulatory approach will ensure that cell-cultured products derived from the cell lines of livestock and poultry are produced safely and are accurately labeled.

“Consumers trust the USDA mark of inspection to ensure safe, wholesome and accurately labeled products,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Mindy Brashears. “We look forward to continued collaboration with FDA and our stakeholders to safely regulate these new products and ensure parity in labeling.”

Under the formal agreement, the agencies agree upon a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to FSIS oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. FSIS will oversee the production and labeling of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.

Many states and organizations have asked for clear labeling of cell-cultured proteins including “beef” and “lamb” only being used when products are derived from actual livestock like cattle and sheep. Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota all have bills or resolutions in their state legislatures asking to clearly label these products, even going as far as making the packaging different from certain cuts so not to be mistaken for beef or lamb products on the shelves.

The American Sheep Industry Association passed a new policy at the 2019 ASI Annual Convention asking for FSIS to have regulatory oversight of these products, as well as calling for the use of the term “lamb” to “only include products derived from actual livestock raised by sheep farmers and ranchers and harvested for human consumption.”

This topic continues to be ironed out on all levels but there is still lots of work to be done before cell-cultured products hit the market.

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USDA/FSIS

American Sheep Industry Association

Northern Ag Network

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