Meat could soon be raised in Petri dishes instead of on farms. In a meeting missed by the media earlier this month, the FDA and USDA discussed what to call it.
Soon, we won’t need animals to eat “meat,” or at least not much of them… just their stem cells.
Earlier this month, the FDA and USDA met to discuss how to regulate — and what to call — “meat” grown in laboratories, rather than on farms.
“Clean meat,” “in vitro meat,” “artificial meat” and even “alt-meat” have all been suggested by industry leaders, anxious to brand their new product as a “humane” and “environmentally-friendly” alternative to factory farming.
The “real” meat industry prefers less-appetizing terms, like “cultured tissue.”
“Production of cell-cultured meat involves retrieving a live animal’s adult muscle stem cells and setting them in a nutrient-rich liquid,” the Washington Post reports.
The clusters of multiplying cells grow around a “scaffold,” which helps the tissue take on a desired shape — nuggets or patties, for example.
“The result is a product that looks and tastes like meat because it’s made from animal cells, rather than plant-based products.”
Until now, the FDA (F00d and Drug Administration) was expected to regulate the up-and-coming cell-cultured food products, but in a recent meeting with the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) the two agencies decided they would jointly monitor the technology.
In a Nov.16 press release, the agencies announced that the FDA would oversee “cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation,” while the USDA will oversee the production and labeling of the poultry and livestock products.
The statement noted that the agencies have the statutory authority to approve lab-grown meat without the need for our elected representatives to to get involved.
Because cultured meat doesn’t require many animals to provide potentially vast amounts of “meat,” proponents argue it would eliminate many of the environmental impacts and ethical issues associated with factory farming.
Some environmental groups and animal rights advocates support lab-grown meat because it would consume fewer natural resources, avoid slaughter and eliminate the use of growth hormones.
The American Meat Science Association worries that lab-grown protein is not as safe or nutritious as traditional meat
Tyson and Cargill are the top two investors in lab-grown animal protein technology so far.
We’re likely still three or four years away from seeing cell-cultured products on shelves.