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Regulatory milestones of cultivated meat

The regulatory framework opens in Europe for cultivated meat. This summer, two very important milestones have taken place: the Netherlands has authorized cultivated meat testing and, in Switzerland and the UK, the procedure for applying for regulatory approval has begun. In this post, we will tell you about the steps that have been taken so far for the regulation of cultivated meat in the world.

Singapore, the first

In December 2020, this Asian country became the first in the world to regulate the commercialization of cultivated meat following analysis by the Singapore Food Safety Agency, which ruled that cultivated meat was suitable for human consumption. To achieve this approval, the documentation studied by the Agency included information on the purity, identity and stability of – in this case – chicken cells during the manufacturing process, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process that demonstrated that the chicken cultivated complied with the quality controls of the rigorous food safety control system. The first menu with chicken meat from cell culture was served at the 1880 restaurant and its commercialization was later extended to other restaurants and retail establishments in the country.

USA, the big step

A few months ago, it was the US FDA and the Department of Agriculture who authorized the consumption and sale of cultivated meat in this country, undoubtedly constituting a giant step for the sector. It should be noted that the authorization is given for a specific product that a company presents and that an application must be submitted for each product that you want to commercialize.

The green light was first obtained by the FDA, in November 2022, which carried out an exhaustive analysis of the product and its manufacturing process, concluding that “foods composed of, or containing, cultivated chicken cell material resulting from the defined production […] are as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods”.

In June, cultivated meat received final authorization from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for labeling, obtaining the «inspection registration», approved after a rigorous process that includes the evaluation of the food safety system of the company that wants commercialize the product.

The well-known Spanish chef José Andrés will be one of the first to include cultivated meat in the menu he offers in his restaurant in Washington.

First movements in Europe

The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK are the countries that have taken the lead in Europe. The regulatory agencies of these two countries have already begun to evaluate each commercialization application they have received, a process that can take between a year or two.

In Holland, what has been authorized by the Government of this country is the tasting of cultivated meat, which must be done under certain parameters and protocols, since the EFSA has not yet authorized its consumption in the European Union. However, this authorization represents a first gesture of welcome to cultivated meat, although we will still have to wait a while before it can be commercialized in the countries of the European Union.

10 years have passed since a team of Dutch scientists led by Mark Post, from Maastrich University, presented the first hamburger made from cultivated beef meat in London. Since then, research has allowed a dazzling development of this promising system for generating animal protein, which has already been endorsed by important regulatory agencies and is on the verge of industrial scaling, increasingly closer to consumers being able to opt for cultivated meat on the shelves of their supermarkets.