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FDA Could Soon Regulate Cell-Cultured Food Products

Jul 18, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering creating food safety and labeling rules for animal tissue produced through cell-culture technology, an emerging technology allowing companies to create animal food products without animals. The association recently attended the agency’s first public meeting on foods produced using this technology, which focused on food safety regulations. IDFA is closely monitoring these developments because of the food safety and labeling implications for dairy foods made with similar technology.

FDA evaluates a variety of food products produced through cell culture, such as omega-3 oils derived from algae, and probiotic bacteria used in foods like yogurt. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates slaughter and production of meat, poultry and egg products under different statutory authorities. This scenario raises questions over whether cell culture-produced meat should be regulated by FDA or USDA.

Future FDA cell culture food regulations may also be affected by the Trump Administration’s proposed government reorganization plans, which seeks to reorganize USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) food safety functions under a single agency within USDA.

Cell Technology in Dairy

Until recently, cell culture technology has been primarily used in biological and bio-medical research. Cell culture technologies are now opening opportunities for production of bovine, poultry and fish muscle cells that simulate actual animal muscle meat.

The emergence of cellular food production technology has also yielded purified proteins, identical to those found in milk, produced by cultured microorganisms. This raises similar questions as to whether these proteins and their production should be regulated the same as milk from a cow and how they should be named.

Next Steps

IDFA is planning to hold discussions with its membership, through its regulatory committees, regarding how synthetic dairy compounds, like proteins, should be regulated and labeled.

In the meantime, members with questions or comments may contact John Allan, vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, at


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