“Ensuring lab-grown fake meat products are subject to strong, daily inspection by USDA’s trained professionals is essential,” says Jennifer Houston, president-elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). She made the comments during a two-day meeting this week, hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The meeting—Use of Animal Cell Culture Technology to Develop Products Derived from Livestock and Poultry—included discussions about the safety and marketing of cell-based fake meat, as well as which agency will ultimately have regulatory control.
“The health of consumers is on the line, and USDA is far better suited to ensure the safety of lab-grown products,” Houston explained.
At the same meeting, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) continued to argue that the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have primary jurisdiction for regulation of new cell-based meat products.
“That the inspection system FSIS administers is more rigorous than the one administered by FDA is undeniable. Administration officials have said as much,” explained Mark Dopp, NAMI senior vice president of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs. “I am baffled why those who advocate that FDA should have primary jurisdiction over cell-based meat products want to deny those companies the benefits of FSIS inspection.”
FSIS oversight includes the USDA mark of inspection, providing consumer confidence that a product has been deemed wholesome by the agency.
Dopp also detailed the importance and benefits of USDA’s label approval process, which protects companies from frivolous lawsuits and gives consumers confidence that products are accurately labeled and not represented to be something they are not.
“USDA can be trusted to enforce truthful, transparent labeling of the products under its jurisdiction,” explained Kevin Kester, NCBA president. “Beef producers welcome competition, but product labels and marketing must be based on sound science, not the misleading claims of anti-animal agriculture activists.”