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Cultivated Meat and Seafood – Pushing the Needle for Regulatory Developments Globally

Regulations Blog APAC-SCA
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With recent developments in the regulatory sphere - it is with excitement that we foretell a bright future for the Cultivated Meat and Seafood Sector. Governments and local jurisdictions have been pushing the needle forward with the realisation that cultivated foods are on the pathway to becoming a key player in global efforts toward sustainability and food security.

The most recent addition to the list of countries adopting to the sector, on Aug. 1st 2022, South Korea released news of the incorporation of Cultivated Meat in the 2022 National Plans as notified by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS)[1]. The plan will include an outline of which safety and manufacturing assessment will be included in the potentially not-to-distant regulatory framework.

South Korea is in alignment with the rapid trajectory of countries that recently joined the pathway towards efficient and safe regulations. In early 2022, China announced its inclusion of Cultivated Meat in its ‘Five-Year National Plan’ and highlighted its importance for food security and signifying its importance for R&D investments[2]. This move was followed by Japan and the Ministry of Health who in June began the work of the formation of an ‘expert’ group to assess the safety and commercialisation of Cultivated Meat – setting up recommendations and guidelines under regulatory frameworks[3].

It goes without saying, the reverberation of a global movement toward regulatory inclusion began with a small-but-giant leap in Singapore. By 2018, the first framework was in place; by 2020, the first product was permitted for commercialisation[4] – a first on a global scale. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has taken the lead in developing a framework that includes inputs from the stakeholders of the industry – a framework that has been updated on a regular cadence, with the inclusion of FAQs, general guidance, and more defined requirements.

On a global level, in November this year, FAO in collaboration with WHO is organising an expert consultation for the cultivated meat sector to underline a consensus and recommendation on the topic of food safety[5]. With updated guidelines under Codex in 2023 – it is with optimism that we’ll see the beginning of a truly global shift in the regulatory space.

Overseas, the European Parliament had its first ever Cultivated Meat debate earlier this year[6]. With parliamentary involvement comes a potential pathway to more efficient regulations and hopefully the first-ever regulatory approval for commercial sale[7]. Moreover, the US announced in 2019 that FDA and USDA will jointly oversee the approval of the Cultivated Meat sector. With specific guidelines being developed, we have the potential to foresee the first regulatory approval and commercialisation as early as 2023[8].

In the race for regulatory approval, however - none other than Qatar might be the next in line. The Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Health indicated their intent in 2021 for the approval of a cultivated chicken product[9]. Another interesting candidate is the post-Brexit UK. Here, regulations could take a spin towards more streamlined frameworks surpassing potential lengthy processing times under the EU[10].

Noteworthy are also Canada, Brazil, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand – to name a few – whom all are engaged through their regulatory bodies to explore the approval of novel foods under either their existing ‘novel’ food frameworks or by the introduction of specific guidelines[11].

Undoubtedly, while there is much more work to be undertaken in the space of regulatory pathways to efficient, safe, and transparent frameworks – the movement towards a future of sustainability and food security is being accelerated on a daily basis. While governments and global institutions are awoken to the reality and necessity for the inclusion of Cultivated Meat and Seafood in national plans, regulatory frameworks and policies, and funding and R&D - the industry has shifted gears from ‘if’ to finding the answers of ‘when’.

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