Meat processing regulations for cultivated meat are entering a new era as the industry is on the cusp of commercialization. While some people may think there is overlap in USDA and FDA regulations, the two agencies entered a joint agreement to split their responsibilities as it pertains to regulating the cultivated meat industry.
As this exciting new frontier continues to expand, navigating the complex regulatory landscape has become increasingly important. We believe that ensuring the safety of our products is paramount.
That’s why we are committed to following all applicable laws and food safety regulations in the U.S. We believe that by staying up-to-date on all relevant legislation, we can continue to provide our customers and consumers with safe and delicious food products.
In this blog article, we will discuss USDA and FDA regulations, the Principles of US Federal Food Law, and how all of this applies to the cultivated meat industry. We’ll also discuss U.S. federal and other regulations that we must follow to obtain approval.
Does Cultivated Meat Need to Be Regulated?
As with any new food product, regulators around the world are taking a close look at the safety of cultivated meat. Experts believe that it has the potential to be a safer alternative to conventionally-farmed meat because it's produced entirely in a controlled environment.
Still, it is always important to include regulatory third-party entities to help ensure the food being produced is safe. As such, manufacturers and regulators are working to ensure controls are in place so everyone can have the utmost confidence when they are enjoying lab-grown meat.
In 2019, the FDA and USDA signed an agreement that outlines their roles in regulating cultivated meat. The FDA oversees cell collection and growth—what we call the ‘upstream’—while the USDA oversees the production and labeling of the resulting food products—what’s called the ‘downstream’.
We are diligently working in partnership with the FDA and the USDA to ensure our meat products follow food regulations in the U.S. Our cultivated chicken is currently undergoing rigorous food safety evaluations by the FDA.
With the recent FDA and USDA approvals of Eat Just and Upside Foods' cultivated meat - both milestones in the industry - we remain optimistic about the industry's prospects. We are awaiting the necessary clearance from the FDA and then the USDA to confirm our products are safe, sanitary, and properly labeled.
What are the Principles of US Federal Food Law?
The FDA and USDA consist of a complex system of laws that govern the production, processing, and sale of food products. These laws are designed to protect consumers from unsafe or adulterated food. Both entities regulate the cultivated meat industry together.
The FDA is responsible for regulating cultivated meat through the cell harvesting process. The USDA meat inspection requirements come from its Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and begins regulating cultivated meat after the cells are harvested.
In addition to these two agencies, establishments have the option to apply for state inspection as well. In this regard, states operate under a cooperative agreement with USDA’s FSIS and must enforce requirements "at least equal to" federal regulations.
Products produced under State Inspection are limited to intrastate commerce, unless a state opts into an additional cooperative program known as the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program.
What is the Federal Registration for Food?
Food facilities in the United States must register with either the USDA or the FDA. This federal registration is required by law and is necessary to ensure that food products are safe for consumption.
The FDA requires all domestic and foreign food facilities to register every other year, which includes providing information about their facility. The USDA requires meat and poultry processing firms to register with them before they can begin manufacturing products.
In addition to specific regulations, food facilities must also comply with other regulations set forth by the FDA and USDA. These include following good manufacturing practices, and adhering to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plans and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures.
What is the Inspection for Food Regulations?
Food regulations are important to ensure that food products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled. The inspection process for food regulations is a multi-step process run by the USDA.
At the federal level, the FSIS is responsible for the USDA regulations for meat processing, including inspecting all meat, poultry, and egg products. The FSIS inspects these products at slaughterhouses and processing plants alike to make sure that they meet safety standards.
The future of meat took a giant leap closer to American plates in December when we broke ground on our first U.S. commercial-scale production facility in North Carolina. This process as well as our cell cultivation and food processing will all be regulated by federal agencies.
Additionally, some companies may choose to have their products audited by private third-party organizations such as Global Food Inspection (GFI). GFI provides independent certification services to help companies demonstrate their commitment to food safety and quality assurance.
At Believer, we follow best-in-class food safety standards and continually seek out internal and external partners for guidance, counsel and best practices to ensure our food safety protocols are among the most rigorous in the food industry.
What are the Packaging and Labeling Requirements for Food Regulations?
Meat regulations go beyond what is included in meat and the conditions in which it is produced. Packaging and labeling requirements are also crucial for ensuring food safety and providing consumers with accurate information about the products they purchase.
USDA regulations and guidelines are strict for food packaging and labeling to maintain high standards of quality and safety in the industry. When it comes to packaging materials, they must be safe and suitable for their intended use, not affecting the safety or quality of the food. In addition, packaging should protect the food from contamination, spoilage, and damage during transportation and storage.
Labeling requirements are essential for consumer protection and include accurate product names, net quantity statements, ingredient lists, and allergen declarations. Moreover, nutrition facts panels, serving sizes, and daily values must be displayed on most packaged foods.
For meat and poultry products, the USDA requires specific information on labels, such as inspection legends and safe handling instructions. Any health claims, nutrient content claims, or other promotional statements must be truthful.
What are the Food Regulations for Health Claims?
When it comes to food labeling, it is important to understand the USDA regulations and guidelines surrounding health claims. The USDA has established rules that govern how food products can make health claims on their labels to ensure that consumers have accurate information.
All health claims made on food labels must be truthful and non-misleading. This means that any statement about a specific substance’s role in promoting health must be backed up by scientific evidence.
Food manufacturers must also provide detailed nutrition information and list all ingredients used in the product. It is important for consumers to be aware of these regulations so they can make informed decisions about what they eat.
Staying Up-To-Date with Ever-Evolving Regulations
As Believer spearheads the cultivated meat industry, navigating the ever-evolving meat processing regulations and other federal and state requirements will remain a top priority of ours to ensure the safety and integrity of our products.
Although cultivated meat is not vulnerable to many of the food safety risks associated with conventionally-farmed meat, we prioritize food safety so everyone can eat meat they trust and crave.
With a commitment to compliance and consumer well-being, we continue to pave the way for a future where cultivated meat takes center stage. Follow along at The Source to be the first to know about updates on meat processing regulations and other cultivated meat developments.