The Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture recently announced a formal agreement to jointly regulate cell-cultured meat and poultry products. Cultured meat is produced by the cultivation of animal cells in a laboratory, instead of from slaughtered animals. The regulation of these products has been contentious due to concerns over safety, transparency, and the potential for the technology to replace the billions of live animals currently used in agriculture. It also presents a jurisdictional question: The USDA traditionally regulates food safety for meat, poultry, farmed catfish, and processed egg products, while the FDA regulates other processed foods and shelled eggs.
According to the agreement, the FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth processes. Once products are “harvested,” the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will oversee the production and labeling of food products created from these cells.