By: Barry Carpenter
Today, the North American Meat Institute partnered with Memphis Meats, the leader in the cell-based meat industry, on a letter to President Trump pushing for the most appropriate regulatory system for new cell-based products being developed for the marketplace.
For the Meat Institute the letter sends the same message previously delivered to President Trump in conjunction with industry partners. Both letters highlight the basis of the policy adopted by our Board of Directors in April and consistent with our comments on previous occasions on this issue: That cell-based meat and poultry products be regulated by USDA to ensure a level playing field for all products.
We agree with Memphis Meats that FDA should take the steps necessary regarding premarket approval of new cell- based technology and that USDA’s inspectors should oversee the production of any products destined for the marketplace, just as traditional meat products have been since the Federal Meat Inspection Act was passed in 1906.
There is extensive precedent of FDA-USDA regulatory partnerships. Irradiation is a good example of this. As a technology, irradiation of meat products was reviewed and approved by FDA as a safe pathogen reduction process. Once approved, USDA oversees its use on meat products and ensures that irradiated meat products are labeled appropriately.
Similarly, there is considerable confusion regarding the appropriate terminology for these products. The term “clean meat” used by some in the industry is inappropriate, and we agree with Memphis Meats that “cell-based meat” is the most accurate term.
As the letter states, cell-based and traditional meat products are an “and,” not an “or,” solution. As an industry, we support a fair and competitive marketplace that lets consumers decide what food products make sense for them. However, a level regulatory playing field is necessary and the process outlined in the letter is necessary to achieve that goal.