Dreamstime

Regulating lab-created meat is no piece of cake

January 17, 2019 - 3:30 am
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By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — How do you like your burger: rare, medium, or lab-created? 

Lab-created meat — not quite vegetarian, not hunted nor slaughtered — is a tough concept to get your definitional and legal mind around.  

Plant-based meat alternatives like soy or tofu have been around for decades, but it was only five years ago that the first burger was grown in a lab by culturing muscle tissue from animal stem cells.  

Fighting between the beef industry and their lab-based counterparts began immediately over the most basic of concepts — like what even to call the product. The alternative meat folks preferred the term "clean meat," infuriating the beef industry, which preferred terms like "artificial meat," "lab-created meat," or "zombie meat."

Now the industries have come to a consensus: It will be called "cell-based meat." 

Even the government was conflicted over who gets to regulate it — the FDA, which oversees cell culturing technology, or the USDA, which regulates livestock and poultry. 

The two agencies have now agreed to work together and recently put out a statement announcing they have set up a framework to regulate the product, clearing the way to bring the new form of food, so expect it to soon be on a plate near you.