Josh Tetrick, CEO and co-founder of California-based food tech company JUST, is urging the FDA and USDA to come to an agreement on how to best regulate clean cultured meat products.
Earlier this month, Tetrick issued a letter to US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Acting Deputy Under Secretary Carmen Rottenberg in order to communicate the importance working quickly to develop safety regulations and proper labeling for emerging clean meat producers. While the FDA announced last June that it would hold a public meeting regulating clean meat products, it organization has yet to issue any official statements.
Clean meat, or meat grown from real animal cells using cellular agriculture technology, has also been referred to as cell-based meat, lab-grown meat, or slaughter-free meat.“Companies pursuing innovative, sustainable meat technology need clarity about regulatory expectations and a defined path to market for cultured meat products that are safe and properly labeled,” Tetrick wrote.
“If the USDA believes it should have a role, the agency’s promotion of agriculture products must extend to cultured meat, and in so doing, should call these products meat. Further, all of this should be accomplished in active consultation with companies producing cultured meat and without a lengthy rulemaking process,” he continued.
Although no clean meat is on the market yet, several companies claim that a launch is fast-approaching. JUST, which is known for sustainable vegan products like egg-free mayo and a pourable liquid egg made from mung beans, believes that its slaughter-free ground chicken will be available by the end of the year. San Francisco-based cellular agriculture company Memphis Meats has given a tentative date of 2021 for the launch of its cultured meat. Last September, a small gathering of investors and journalists were given the first-ever taste test of clean pork sausages developed by startup New Age Meats.
“Producing cultured meat (and poultry and seafood) has the potential to be an efficient way to bring protein sources to consumers as well as being environmentally friendly (lower land, water, and energy requirements, fewer greenhouse-gas emissions),” Tetrick continued, emphasizing the importance of acting in order to mitigate climate change brought on by animal agriculture.
However close companies may be to being the first to bring clean meat to market, challenges beyond regulatory practices lie ahead. Both Tetrick and Memphis Meats founder Uma Valeti agree that further technological advancements must be made before products like cell-based cuts of meat, rather than meat products, will impact the market.
Production costs, another hurdle in making lab-grown meat accessible to a wider market, are going down according to a report released by Dutch animal nutrition company, Nutreco. In 2013, the world’s first lab-grown burger cost £215,000. Earlier this month, the company revealed that it would cost only £8 per patty.
“Establishing a regulatory framework for cultured meat quickly and efficiently is vital. Otherwise, the public will be deprived of these anticipated benefits. We look forward to continuing the conversation and would be happy to meet with you before or after the upcoming public meeting,” Tetrick concluded.
Tetrick is keen on pushing for the USDA and FDA to take a stance on the matter of clean meat. JUST will attend the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and FDA Joint Public Meeting on the Use of Cell Culture Technology to Develop Products Derived from Livestock and Poultry later this month in hopes of continuing the conversation.
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