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Conventional and Cell-Based/Cultured Meat Groups Write Joint Letter to USDA Urging Agency to Solicit Input on What Labeling Should Look Like

  • On October 19, 2019, organizations representing conventional and cell-based /cultured meat, poultry, and seafood companies, including the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation and the North American Meat Institute, wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) stating that “although these products have not yet come to market in the United States, market entry is fast approaching, and there is significant interest in the regulation of these products, particularly regarding applicable labeling requirements.”

  • In their letter to USDA, the groups stated that they are committed to supporting and complying with principles that ensure labeling is truthful and not misleading, does not disparage cell-based/cultured or conventional products, enables consumers to distinguish between such products, and is consistent with the safety and nutritional qualities of the product.

  • By way of background, in 2019, USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a formal agreement that stated that both agencies would jointly oversee the production of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.  The agreement stated that FSIS will have oversight of the labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry while the FDA will oversee the labeling of cell-based/cultured seafood.  Moreover, on October 6, 2020, FDA issued a Request for Information on the labeling of foods comprised of or containing cell-based/cultured seafood, in which FDA notes that it intends to use the information and data resulting to determine what type(s) of action, if any, the Agency should take to ensure that these foods are labeled properly.

  • In the letter, the groups urged USDA to also solicit data to propose and establish an appropriate mandatory labeling requirement for cell-based meat and poultry products.  The groups recommended that FSIS issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to obtain more information and supporting data on finished product characteristics for cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products, mainly those that may require labeling, as this information will provide FSIS with substantive data needed to better inform the Agency’s decision-making process.  The groups added that FSIS has issued ANPRs to obtain information from industry, consumers, and other stakeholders in the past, and that it could do so for the labeling of cell-based/cultured products as well.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 296
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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...

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