What is cell-based meat?
Cell-based meat is produced using animal cell culture technology, where meat is produced from animal cells using a combination of biotechnology, tissue engineering, molecular biology and synthetic processes.
Cell culture technology does not reproduce the animal itself, but produces a product that is intended to resemble traditional meat from an animal, such as steak, minced meat, etc.
Technology has advanced to a stage where this is possible, so companies are increasingly exploring cell-based meat options as an alternative to farmed meat.
Is cell-based meat the same as plant-based meat alternatives?
No. Plant-based meat alternatives are made from plants and plant-based proteins and produced to look and taste like traditional meat, despite containing no animal cells. Plant-based meats are made in food production facilities like many other foods.
How will FSANZ regulate cell-based meat?
The Food Regulation System in Australia and New Zealand is equipped to deal with new types of foods, including foods produced by new technologies.
There are currently no permissions or requirements in the Food Standards Code for cell-based meats. While FSANZ has been aware of cell-based meats for some time, we have not yet been approached by a food business seeking regulatory approval.
FSANZ’s view is that cell-based meats would be captured within existing standards in the Code and require pre-market approval. Depending on the composition of cell-based meats, these standards may include those for:
• Novel foods - foods without a history of traditional human consumption in Australia and New Zealand;
• Processing aids – substances used to produce foods but which serve no technological function in the final food for sale;
• Food additives – substances that serve a technological function in the final food for sale;
• Foods produced using gene technology;
• Vitamins and minerals;
• Labelling that indicates the true nature of the food; and
• Definition of cell based meat
• Food Safety requirements
How are other countries regulating cell-based meat?
FSANZ is aware that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) are establishing a framework for regulating cell-based meat and poultry. Currently in the early stages, the aim of the framework is to provide a transparent path to market for cell-based meat alternatives.
In the European Union, it is likely cell based meat will fall under the EU Novel Food Regulations, whilst Israel, China, Japan, the Netherlands and Singapore appear to be moving quickly to ensure a clear path to market for this method of meat production.