Cultivated Meat

First European Application for the Sale of Cultivated Meat – What You Need to Know

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Israel’s Aleph Farms has submitted an application to Swiss regulators to sell its cultivated beef. Aleph Farm’s application to the Swiss authorities is submitted with the goal of selling the world’s first cultivated beef steaks under the Aleph Cuts brand in Switzerland, which would represent the first in the continent if approval is granted.

A life-cycle assessment shows that cultivated beef could result in a reduction of 92% of carbon footprint if renewable energy is used in the production process, 95% of land use and 78% of water requirements, compared to conventional beef production.

Swiss and EU regulatory processes

In a manner similar to that of the European Union, the Swiss regulatory framework encompasses a robust and well-founded procedure for assessing the safety of novel foods. In order for cultivated meat to be commercialized in Switzerland, companies such as Aleph Farms are required to seek authorization from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) by submitting a comprehensive safety dossier. This process entails a rigorous safety evaluation and extensive toxicological studies aimed at substantiating the food’s safety. It is anticipated that this evaluation will take a minimum of 12 months.

Aleph Cuts meat skewer
© Aleph Farms

Prior to the sale of cultivated meat products in EU member states, they must undergo approval from regulators, overseen by the Novel Foods Regulation. This approval process entails a thorough and evidence-based assessment of the safety and nutritional value of cultivated meat, with an estimated timeframe of at least 18 months. As of the present moment, GFI Europe has not been made aware of any applications for pre-market authorization of cultivated meat submitted to the EU.

To facilitate the application process, the Swiss FSVO offers a standardized template that assists companies in navigating the requirements, providing clarity and guidance for applicants. Such a resource serves as an example of what the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) could potentially develop to enhance transparency and support producers in bringing their products to market within the EU.

What the GFI says

Seth Roberts, Policy Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, comments on the news: “It’s fantastic to see Switzerland leading the way for cultivated meat in Europe. Once approved by regulators, Swiss consumers will be able to enjoy their favorite beef dishes, made in a way that could slash climate emissions and create space for more sustainable farming. Cultivated meat represents a huge opportunity for Switzerland to enhance its food security and create future-proof jobs, as it positions itself as a hub for food innovation.

“Europe is sending mixed messages to companies who need certainty to be able to deliver on their potential”

“But it’s striking that Europe’s first-ever cultivated meat application has arrived in Switzerland rather than Brussels. With Italy trying to ban cultivated meat while countries like the Netherlands invest, Europe is sending mixed messages to companies who need certainty to be able to deliver on their potential. The EU must develop a coherent strategy to support the sustainable protein sector and ensure regulatory processes are clear, in order to reap the benefits of cultivated meat.” 
Aleph Cuts spread
© Aleph Farms

What ProVeg International says

Mathilde Alexandre, Corporate and Institutional Engagement Manager at ProVeg International, said: “This is a really encouraging step for Europe and a clear indicator that the cultivated meat industry is continuing to gain momentum and move towards commercialization.

“…freed-up land areas could be used for reforestation, biodiversity protection, and rewilding”

“We have already seen approvals granted in the United States last month and cultivated meat has been on the market in Singapore for two years. European nations must actively welcome more applications to ensure that the transformative potential of cultivated meat on the food system is realised as quickly as possible. The Netherlands has already taken a step in the right direction by approving the tasting of cultivated meat this month.

“Cultivated meat presents a host of sustainability potential. One of the clearest potential environmental gains in cellular agriculture concerns the land dedicated to animal agriculture, as freed-up land areas could be used for reforestation, biodiversity protection, and rewilding, all of which would allow nature to regenerate and absorb more CO2.”

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