USDA waits for data on cell-cultured food products

Mindy Brashears, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, spoke Monday at the UNL Food Innovation Center.

The Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the USDA, Mindy Brashears, says there is still a lot to learn about cell-cultured, lab-grown meat.

Brashears says the companies developing the cell-cultured products have not yet provided data for USDA to analyze.

“There’s a lot of information that we don’t know. Like, from our meat science perspective, what’s the amino acid composition? Do we have a complete protein? Is it the same as regular meat? What’s the functionality if you put this in a meat product? If we do our feeding studies on cell-based meats, are they utilized in the same way as regular meat?” Brashears says. “And, obviously, we have research needs on the safety side, because we just don’t know enough about the products—the shelf life and any risks that might be in place.

“We need all this information as we move toward labeling.”

Brashears promises it will be a transparent process.

“We do know for sure that there will be transparency and there will be a distinction of those and our traditional meat-type products,” she says.

The USDA and FDA will jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured meat. FDA will oversee the initial stages of the production. USDA’s FSIS will handle the regulations on production, inspection and labeling of cell-cultured food products.

Brashears spoke Monday at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

AUDIO: Mindy Brashears

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