September 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 262

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September 17, 2021

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Cultured Meat: Shaping the Future of Foods

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), in December 2020, approved the world's first cultured chicken produced by Eat Just, Inc., signaling the start of the global regulatory approval process to clear cultured meat.

Cultured meat is meat produced by in vitro cell culture of animal cells, instead of from slaughtered animals. Typically, selected cell lines or stem cells are grown in a bioreactor with suitable growth media, and subsequently onto a "scaffold" to produce the cultured meat. This process involves relatively small amounts of land and labor in a climate-resilient and sustainable manner.

Given the novel nature of cultured meat, SFA reviewed the Eat Just's cultured chicken via a "novel food" petition. i.e., Requirements for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods, under which the applicant is required to submit a list of materials to assess the safety of the novel food, including details about the manufacturing process, cell lines, culture media, scaffolding materials, toxicity, allergenicity, and dietary exposure, etc. SFA requires that cultured meat, when sold in Singapore, must be labeled with qualifying terms such as "mock" or "cultured" to indicate the true nature of the product.

While Singapore is the first country to grant approval for cultured meat, other countries have either embarked on a legislative discussion to develop a regulatory framework specifically for cultured meat or offered a regulatory pathway to clear the cell-based products. For example, in the U.S., the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a formal agreement in 2019 to regulate cell-cultured food products from cell lines of livestock and poultry. In the EU, cultured meat is governed by the existing Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 on novel foods under which one needs to file an application with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for a scientific assessment. In China, a petition process for approving "new food ingredients" also is available, which may be a possible route to obtain approval for cultured meat.

While industry will have to navigate different regulations throughout the world, and continue to wait patiently while most regulators decide how to regulate cultured meat, one thing is clear, SFA has opened the door, even if just a crack, to what will no doubt be an exciting new area of food technology that will bring countless new options to the table.

© 2021 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 32
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About this Author

David J. Ettinger, Keller Heckman, Partner, Food and Drug Corporation, International Trade Lawyer, Attorney, Shanghai, China
Partner

David Ettinger joined Keller and Heckman in 1999. Mr. Ettinger represents domestic and foreign corporations in the area of food and drug law.

Mr. Ettinger relocated to Keller and Heckman's Shanghai office in November 2012 to focus on the Asian market and counsel companies in the Far East on food, drug, and chemical regulatory matters. He has extensive experience counseling clients on product development and product protection of food and drug packaging in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. From 2006-2007, Mr. Ettinger...

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Yin Dai, Keller Heckman, Multi national Food Companies Regulation, Paralegal, Shanghai, China,
Paralegal

Yin Dai joined Keller and Heckman in 2013.  She is a paralegal in the food and drug practice area. She monitors developments impacting the regulations of food, food packaging, drugs and medical devices throughout Asia.  Ms. Dai assists multi-national food and chemical companies in product stewardship and compliance matters, especially in China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and other ASEAN countries.  She also participates in the clearance for new food related materials in China and other Asian countries.

Prior to joining Keller and Heckman, Ms. Dai...

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Suyan  Sharon Tian Paralegal Food and Drug practice
Paralegal

Sharon Tian is a paralegal in the Food and Drug practice. She monitors developments impacting the regulations of food, food packaging, drugs, medical devices and cosmetics throughout Asia. In addition, Ms. Tian supports the professional staff by helping multi-national companies with regulatory compliance issues, including food and food-related products, feed and feed additives, medical devices and cosmetics.

86-21-6335-1000
Jenny Li, Keller Heckman, China Food, Drug Regulation, Shanghai, International Trade
Legal Consultant

Jenny Li joined Keller and Heckman in October 2007.

Ms. Li counsels clients on regulatory issues focusing on food and drug, with an emphasis on regulatory regimes in the Asia-Pacific region. She also counsels clients on food labeling, food claims, food additives, as well as, important issues regarding food imports in Asian countries.

86-21-6335-1000
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