Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a statement from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Declaring an apparent draw in the battle over which agency is best suited to oversee the production of cell-cultured meat, USDA and FDA released a statement Nov. 16 saying both agencies would be involved.
Here’s the statement released by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib:
“Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting to discuss the use of livestock and poultry cell lines to develop cell-cultured food products. At this meeting, stakeholders shared valuable perspectives on the regulation needed to both foster these innovative food products and maintain the highest standards of public health. The public comment period will be extended and will remain open through December 26, 2018.
“After several thoughtful discussions between our two agencies that incorporated this stakeholder feedback, we have concluded that both the USDA and the FDA should jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry.
“Drawing on the expertise of both USDA and FDA, the agencies are today announcing agreement on a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage.
“USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. And, the agencies are actively refining the technical details of the framework, including robust collaboration and information sharing between the agencies to allow each to carry out our respective roles.
“This regulatory framework will leverage both the FDA’s experience regulating cell-culture technology and living biosystems and the USDA’s expertise in regulating livestock and poultry products for human consumption. USDA and FDA are confident that this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products. Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary.”
Colin Woodall, NCBA senior vice president of government affairs, issued the following statement regarding the announced plan regarding how USDA and FDA would regulate lab-produced fake meat:
“This announcement that USDA would have primary jurisdiction over the most important facets of lab-produced fake meat is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do on this issue to ensure that real beef producers and consumers are protected and treated fairly. We look forward to continuing our work with the administration and Congress as this moves forward, and we continue to encourage producers to file official comments with USDA and FDA between now and December 26th.”