WASHINGTON — Two government agencies will share oversight of the production of cell-based food for human consumption. An agreement announced March 7 between the U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.) and the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) explains each agency’s role in regulating food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.
The two agencies will work together to oversee the process of developing and commercializing cell-cultured products and enforcing regulations focused on food safety and labeling of the products. The F.D.A. will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation.
“A transition from F.D.A. to F.S.I.S. oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage,” according to the agreement. “F.S.I.S. will oversee the production and labeling of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.”
Mindy Brashears, U.S.D.A. deputy undersecretary for food safety, said, “Consumers trust the U.S.D.A. mark of inspection to ensure safe, wholesome and accurately labeled products. We look forward to continued collaboration with F.D.A. and our stakeholders to safely regulate these new products and ensure parity in labeling.”
The F.D.A.’s recently appointed deputy commissioner for food policy and response, Frank Yiannas, said, “We recognize that our stakeholders want clarity on how we will move forward with a regulatory regime to ensure the safety and proper labeling of these cell-cultured human food products while continuing to encourage innovation. Collaboration between U.S.D.A. and F.D.A. will allow us to draw upon the unique expertise of each agency in addressing the many important technical and regulatory considerations that can arise with the development of animal cell-cultured food products for human consumption.”
The National Turkey Federation (N.T.F.) lauded the team approach to regulating the new generation of products. Joel Brandenberger, president of the N.T.F., said joint oversight is the logical approach.
“Today’s formal agreement appears to address the concerns expressed by N.T.F. members and other meat and poultry producers,” he said. “N.T.F. applauds the teams at U.S.D.A. and F.D.A. for their commitment to a joint process, and we look forward to working with both agencies moving forward. This is just the first of many steps in developing a regulatory framework, and N.T.F. will continue to be an active voice in this discussion.”
The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) also endorsed the agency’s agreement, saying it affirms the association’s position in comments and testimony to the agencies.
“The framework announced today will ensure cell-based meat and poultry products are wholesome, safe for consumption and properly labeled,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of the Meat Institute. “We support a fair and competitive marketplace that lets consumers decide what food products make sense for them and their families.”