A report by Deloitte has advised the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) to reform novel foods regulations, allowing sustainable proteins to come to market more quickly.
The report suggests several changes, such as speeding up the approval process for products that are considered low-risk or have been lawfully sold elsewhere in the world. A conditional authorisation and supervision model, such as that used in the pharmaceutical industry, could be used to allow evidence about safety to develop over time. Deloitte also recommends providing clear frameworks to allow pre-market tastings to take place.
The suggestions have been welcomed by GFI Europe, which said the changes would improve the process without requiring an entirely new regulatory system for products such as cultivated meat and fermented proteins. The organisation advises the FSA to work with consumer groups, scientists, and the sustainable protein industry to identify ways of implementing the recommendations.
“This report summary includes some excellent options for consideration by the FSA to ensure the UK’s regulatory process fosters innovation while prioritising consumer safety and confidence,” said Seth Roberts, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe.
“Measures such as improved guidance for applicant companies and increased regulatory capacity for horizon-scanning would make the process more transparent and navigable for companies, enabling foods such as cultivated meat and animal-free dairy to deliver their climate benefits quicker.
“With many British sustainable protein companies pushing to bring products to market, we welcome the report’s focus on progressive improvements within the existing regulatory framework.”
Commercial & economic opportunity
In a report published at the beginning of last year, the UK government suggested that novel foods regulations would be reviewed to make them more “transparent and effective”, with a specific mention of supporting innovation in the sustainable protein sector. A few months later, GFI and cultivated meat company Ivy Farm held an event at Parliament, asking politicians for more investment in cultivated meat and a “more collaborative regulatory process”.
The Deloitte report comes a week after the Government published a formal response to Professor Dame Angela McLean’s review on pro-innovation regulation for life sciences. The review suggested that plans to reform the novel foods approval process should be accelerated.
In response, the government said: “The government accepts the recommendation. It recognises that technological advances are accelerating the development of novel foods, including in the alternative protein sector, and that this represents a commercial and economic opportunity for the UK in the immediate years ahead.”