Federal Rules for Lab-Grown Foods Linger In Limbo

As cultured meat and dairy products get closer to market, government agencies grapple with regulatory questions.


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A recent article in Science magazine examines the government’s efforts to resolve issues surrounding companies that are preparing to sell lab-grown meat and the hurdles these businesses might encounter when getting their products to market. Currently, it remains unclear whether the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will determine the safety of lab-grown foods made from animal cells because the USDA regulates meat, poultry, and eggs, while the FDA oversees food additives and biologics (products made from living cells). There are also labeling considerations: for example, the FDA “standards of identity” currently define milk as lacteal secretions from a cow, but cultured “milk” does not come from a cow’s udder. To address these and other pressing matters, the Obama Administration began an effort last year to assess and revamp government regulation of agricultural biotechnology products.

Photo courtesy of David Parry / PA Wire