USDA, FDA Agree on Lab-Grown Meat Oversight

November 29, 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration reached agreement on how lab-grown meat and similar products should be regulated, the agencies announced.

In a joint statement, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that “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.”  Under this “joint regulatory framework,” FDA will oversee pre-production activities like cell collection, cell banks and cell growth and differentiation.

USDA’s role begins at the “cell harvest stage,” and the department will regulate production and labeling of food products derived from livestock and poultry cells.  These regulatory activities are consistent with USDA’s traditional role in regulating meat, poultry and egg products.

The joint statement said that legislation was not needed to implement their agreement.  However, a provision in the House version of the agencies’ 2019 funding bill would give regulatory authority to USDA.  Since appropriations for the current fiscal year have not yet been enacted, the fate of that provision is uncertain.

Though lab-grown meat is not yet extensively commercialized, interest has been growing as promoters assert that the products could reduce meat’s carbon footprint, among other claimed benefits.  The range of lab-grown protein could eventually include processed egg products.  UEP’s board of directors approved a motion on the appropriate government regulation of lab-grown protein products, favoring USDA for primary jurisdiction.