The industry of animal cell-based/cultured technology has not yet brought any products to market, but the entry is fast approaching and applicable federal labels are soon going to be required.

And, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation (AMPS Innovation) have  linked up to represent both conventional and cultured meat, poultry and seafood companies to ask the federal government for “a labeling framework that fosters transparency, consumer confidence, and a level playing field while also aligning with longstanding law and policy.”

“As demand for meat, poultry, and seafood increases, the need for nutritious protein, increased productivity, and a more diversified supply chain will soon be greater than ever before,” the two groups said in a letter to USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety, Mindy Brashears. 

“Meeting these needs will require innovative solutions and a clear, science-based regulatory system that supports new approaches to food production and enables greater consumer choice. One solution is animal cell-based/cultured technology, which allows innovators to produce additional meat, poultry, and seafood options for consumers, complementing an array of conventional products already on the market.

“We understand that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) intends to propose regulations on the labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products, and coordinate with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on joint principles on product labeling and claims.

“In addition, FDA recently issued a Request for Information on the ‘labeling of foods comprised of or containing’ cell-based/cultured seafood, in which FDA notes that it intends to use the information and data resulting from the request “to determine what type(s) of action if any, [it] should take to ensure that these foods are labeled properly.”

“We write to express our support for these important regulatory processes, and to respectfully urge FSIS to solicit the data needed to propose and ultimately establish an appropriate mandatory labeling requirement for cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products.”

The two organizations suggest FSIS use the federal process known as “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR),” suggesting it will “better inform the agency’s decision-making process, while also ensuring that the current labeling standards remain high.   

In the letter, while recognizing that rulemaking can be time consuming, the two organizations said they “appreciate the speed at which FSIS and FDA have moved and we hope this pace will continue as the process moves forward.”

“It is possible and likely that cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products may be ready to come to market before FSIS’s rulemaking process concludes,” they wrote. 

“We commend FSIS and FDA for their continued leadership and encourage both agencies to continue to work in close coordination to ensure consistency in labeling across the industry. 

“In just two years, the agencies have engaged stakeholders and taken important steps to establish a clear, predictable, and timely approach to overseeing the production of these products within the existing regulatory frameworks for meat, poultry, and seafood. In doing so, the agencies have affirmed yet again our nation’s role as the world leader in protein production and responsible, science-based food innovation.” 

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