The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration announced Nov. 16 they will jointly oversee the regulation of cell-cultured food products from cell lines of livestock and poultry.

FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.

In a statement, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb described how the two agencies held a public meeting to discuss the use of livestock and poultry cell lines to develop cell-cultured food products.

“At this meeting, stakeholders shared valuable perspectives on the regulation needed to both foster these innovative food products and maintain the highest standards of public health. The public comment period will be extended and will remain open through Dec. 26,” the statement said.

“After several thoughtful discussions between our two agencies that incorporated this stakeholder feedback, 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.

“Drawing on the expertise of both USDA and FDA, the agencies are announcing agreement on a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation.

“The agencies are actively refining the technical details of the framework, including robust collaboration and information sharing between the agencies to allow each to carry out our respective roles,” the statement said.

“This regulatory framework will leverage both the FDA’s experience regulating cell-culture technology and living biosystems and the USDA’s expertise in regulating livestock and poultry products for human consumption. USDA and FDA are confident that this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products.

“Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary.”

Colin Woodall, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in a statement, “This announcement that USDA would have primary jurisdiction over the most important facets of lab-produced fake meat is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do on this issue to ensure that real beef producers and consumers are protected and treated fairly.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the administration and Congress as this moves forward, and we continue to encourage producers to file official comments with USDA and FDA between now and Dec. 26.”

United States Cattlemen’s Association President Kenny Graner said, “USCA is encouraged by the statement from the USDA and FDA on a joint regulatory framework for foods produced using cell-cultured technology. USCA has repeatedly stated that interagency collaboration is key for this issue, and this is exactly what was put forward today.”

“Now that we have settled on the jurisdiction of these products, it’s time to move on to ensuring a truthful and transparent label for consumers. Our petition for rulemaking to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on the definitions of ‘beef’ and ‘meat’ must be addressed. We stand by our members and our product, and will continue to work on establishing accurate labeling of cell-cultured products.”

The Plant Based Foods Association, which has claimed itself to be the leading advocate for the cell-based meat industry, had no comment on its website.

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or

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