Tell USDA that lab-raised meat cells need to be clearly labeled

Published November 1, 2011

The USDA has announced plans to adopt rules about the labeling of lab-raised cells that originally came from animals.

The agency’s description is that these are “meat and poultry products comprised of or containing cultured cells derived from animals.” The process starts with taking a sample of cells from an animal, screening them, and storing the cells for future use. When the company wants to make so-called “meat,” the cells are taken out of storage, provided with some sort of liquid nutrients and “other factors to support growth and cellular multiplication.” As they multiply, they continue to be fed the artificial liquid nutrients as well as more growth factors and provided surfaces to attach to, so that they create something that looks and feels like meat.

The language of the USDA’s announcement includes signals that the agency isn’t likely to completely prevent these lab foods from being labeled “beef” or “meat” – but it is looking for some labeling terms to distinguish the lab products from “slaughtered meat products.”

This is just the first stage of a multi-stage rulemaking process.…

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