A recent meeting hosted by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Health of Israel has provided insight into the state of cell-cultured food safety. On September 7, 2022 in Tel Aviv, Israel, a group of researchers and developers gathered to discuss developments in cell-based food products, how the safety of cell-cultured foods can be assured, and the potential food security benefits of cell-based products.
FAO Senior Food Safety Officer Markus Lipp, Ph.D., spoke at the event about the challenge of navigating how the global food sector discusses the emerging concept of cell-cultured foods. According to Dr. Lipp, there is a need to define a common language to talk about novel, cell-based food products and technology. FAO Food Safety Officer Masami Takeuchi, Ph.D., provided an overview of ongoing work related to cell-based foods, noting three publications that are underway and that focus on the novel food type’s terminologies, production process, and current regulatory frameworks.
According to FAO, cell-based food products are also commonly referred to as "cultured" or "cultivated" versions of the commodity, such as meat, chicken, or fish. The process of developing cell-cultured foods can also be referred to as “cellular agriculture.” Given the various terminology in use for cell-based foods and technology, internationally harmonized terms for the food products and production processes would facilitate easier global communication and understanding. Cell-based food production involves the culturing of cells that are isolated from animals, followed by processing that results in food products that are comparable to traditionally harvested meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and eggs.
At the event, industry stakeholders also shared their experiences in producing cell-cultured meats, seafood and seafood products such as sushi, and milk. Industry representatives broached topics such as assuring the safety of cell-cultured foods, regulatory processes, and consumer acceptance of the novel products.