Representatives of the animal protein industry have been butting heads ever since the introduction of cultured meat products. This is because traditional meat producers, such as the US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), believe that cultured meat should not be referred to as meat at all. However, a recent letter written out to President Trump by Memphis Meats, a leading lab-grown meat producer, and the North American Meat Institute could spell out a truce between the two different industries.
In the letter, the two organizations asked Trump to divide the regulation of lab-grown meat between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There has been a lot of debate between the two different protein groups over which regulatory body is best fit to watch over this new industry. However, this joint letter might mean that the two are coming to common grounds.
What’s surprising is that the letter also offered a solution to the ongoing labeling dispute between the two industries.
“Recognizing a shared desire to support innovation and feed the world, moving forward we will use the term ‘cell-based meat and poultry’ to describe the products that are the result of animal cell culture,” wrote the two organizations.
This understanding means that cultured-meat producers can no longer refer to their products as “clean meat,” which is a term the traditional meat industry was highly against as it shines a negative light on their products.
Additionally, the two groups described the ideal regulatory framework for the lab-grown meat industry. They wrote that the FDA should be in charge of pre-market safety evaluations for cell-based meat and poultry products with input from the USDA. After pre-market safety evaluation, they want the USDA to evaluate cell-based meat products with the same standards they use for traditional meat products.
“Such a regulatory framework is not new and plays into the strengths and experience of FDA and USDA: FDA has extensive expertise regarding products produced using cell culture technology and USDA has a longstanding role in inspecting meat and poultry products,” wrote the two groups.
However, a final decision on the regulatory framework of lab-grown meat products has yet to be made. Memphis Meats and the North American Meat Institute have requested a meeting between the White House, USDA, FDA and representatives from the conventional and cell-based meat industry, to further discuss regulation.