Meat associations reiterate support for USDA regulation of cell based meat products
The North American Meat Institute once again argued that the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has primary jurisdiction for regulation of new cell-based meat products at a joint USDA/FDA public meeting on the use of animal cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry.
In his oral comments, North American Meat Institute Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Mark Dopp explained the many benefits of USDA regulation for cell based meat producers.
“That the inspection system FSIS administers is more rigorous than the one administered by FDA is undeniable. Administration officials have said as much. But 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,” Dopp said.
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.
He shared examples of FDA-regulated plant-based products which are represented on the package as sausage products, but contain no meat. Based not only on USDA’s standards but commonsense, he argued the products are misbranded.
Dopp’s full comments are available here. The Meat Institute will also provide detailed written comments to the agencies in response to many of the questions posed at the meeting.
The National Chicken Council (NCC) also delivered its priorities for cell-cultured meat products as part of the first joint meeting between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry.
“As these new technologies are being explored, it is critical that they receive fair and proper regulatory oversight to ensure that consumers maintain the same level of confidence in the safety and labeling of these products as they have since 1906 under the Federal Meat Inspection Act for traditionally-derived red meat products and since 1957 under the Poultry Products Inspection Act for traditionally-derived poultry products,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.
To that end, the National Chicken Council believes that the following principles are essential for ensuring that cell-cultured meat products are marketed in a safe and properly labeled manner for consumers:
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service should regulate the labeling and safety of these products;
- It is not appropriate to refer to these products using terms such as “clean meat,” nor should these products be named or described in a way that disparages conventional animal proteins;
- These products should be named or labeled in a manner that clearly discloses the process by which they were made; and
- Claims that these products are superior to conventional animal proteins should be prohibited unless such a claim is substantiated by scientific evidence.
“NCC believes that it is essential to ensure consumer confidence in all meat and poultry products – whether traditionally-derived or cell-cultured,” Peterson continued. “To that end, NCC believes that both of these products should receive the same regulatory oversight – a framework that will rely on FSIS’s expertise but may also draw on FDA’s experience as well.”
NCC believes FSIS has the statutory authority, relevant experience, and robust regulatory framework to perform continuous oversight of daily production practices. Additionally, FSIS has a detailed process to oversee the labeling of such products in a manner that clearly discloses the process by which they were made and to otherwise ensure they are labeled in a manner that is not false or misleading.
“FDA also may have additional expertise to fill a role in regulating these products,” Peterson noted. “FDA has long ensured that ingredients used in meat and poultry products are safe for use in food through FDA’s authority over food additives. Additionally, FDA has experience with similar food production technologies, such as microbial, algal, and fungal cells generated by large-scale culture and used as direct food ingredients. This may lend itself for FDA to address the technical safety of the cell-culturing technology used to create such products and to determine whether the results of this technology are or are not approved food additives.”
Source: NAMI, NCC