Cattlemen Press for USDA Oversight at Public Meeting on Lab-Grown Fake Meat

Danielle Beck, director of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, used remarks at a public meeting to advocate for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversight of lab-grown fake meat products. Hosted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the stated goal of the public meeting was to provide interested parties and the public with an opportunity to comment on the technology and regulations related to lab-grown fake meat technology. However, despite existing federal  laws which designate USDA as the primary oversight body of lab-grown fake meat, USDA was not afforded a role in the public meeting.

“NCBA applauds the pointed questions FDA has posed regarding risks, hazards and manufacturing methods of  lab-grown meat food products,” said Beck. “However, the appropriate agency to ask the questions under discussion is the agency that will ultimately have jurisdiction over lab-grown meat food products. Any fair reading of the law places lab-grown  meat food products within the primary jurisdiction of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.”

Beck also explained  why USDA jurisdiction is crucial for ensuring that lab-grown fake meat products are safe for consumers. Continuous inspection that draws on the scientific expertise of USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service provides the most stringent oversight of any  perishable meat food product.

“Critical food safety oversight objectives can only be accomplished if USDA complies with the law and asserts jurisdiction over cultured meat food products,” Beck added.

Many promoters of lab-grown fake meat have claimed that USDA oversight of lab-grown fake meat is unnecessary because animals are not being harvested. In fact, USDA inspection is required for all federal meat plants, whether harvesting occurs or not. USDA inspectors provide daily oversight in  facilities where meat is processed into products  such as ground beef, hot dogs or deli meats.

There are many varied interests in regulating this technology, however at the hearing animal activist groups and technology groups were given equal amount of  time to comment on lab-grown protein. There is a push in the Trump administration, according to Beck, that would move all food regulation to the USDA, and refocus the FDA to more drug regulations.

“The law is clear,” Beck said. “Any meat food  product or byproduct should be regulated by the USDA. This turf war between these agencies needs to stop.”

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