“Cell-Cultured” as the Newly Accepted Term For Lab-Grown Meat in the USA

After some back and forth, it has been tentatively agreed in the USA to call meat from the laboratory “cell-cultured”. This was announced by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after a long exchange with the big players in the clean meat industry.

As early as the end of 2020, the FDA sent out a request to companies that produce cell-based meat or seafood to comment on a possible designation. In the end, BlueNalu, Finless Foods and Memphis Meats, among others, responded to the request.  

Among other things, a study by Hallman and Hallman was decisive in the naming. This states that both “cell-cultured” and “cell-based” would inform consumers of essential facts and would not be misleading, as well as presenting the product in a neutral way.

BlueNalu's whole-muscle, cell-based yellowtail, image supplied

Memphis Meats said it supports “disclosure of the term ‘cell-cultured,’ in conjunction with the name of the conventionally-produced seafood product, in the statement of identity or name of cell-cultured seafood products.” The Berkeley, California-based company also noted in its comments that “Terms that specify the type of seafood product (e.g., ‘fillet,’ ‘steak’) should be permitted in the name or statement of identity of a cell-cultured seafood, as long as the term appropriately describes the particular product.”

The Vegetarian Resource Group specifically addressed the issue of consumer education in their comment: “The use of a term such as ‘engineered using cultured seafood cells’ would help consumers understand that the product is based on seafood and that seafood cells are used in production. An educational program would need to be developed to inform consumers about the meaning of ‘cultured’ in this context.”

All documents and statements on the subject can be found on the US government’s website and can be freely read there.

Memphis Meats
©Memphis Meats

Uniform naming in Europe?

Although European Parliament President Ursula von der Leyen continues to push for her Green Deal, it says little about cultured meat so far. Last year, however, the European Union made its first investments in a laboratory meat project. The Spanish “Meat4All” project received 2.7 million euros in research and development funding.

In Germany is still no officially prescribed name for meat from the bioreactor. However, official documents of the Bundestag currently always refer to “In-Vitro Meat (IVF)”. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will probably give it a uniform name in Germany in the coming months or years. So far, cultured meat has been called “lab-grown meat” in official documents of the European Research Committee.

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