U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith recently introduced legislation that would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the responsibility of regulating, inspecting, and labeling cell-cultured meat products. The Cell-Cultured Meat and Poultry Regulation Act of 2019 would codify the responsibilities of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over food products that are developed in laboratories from animal cell cultures.
“Our federal food safety laws need to be updated to address the scientific effort to create imitation meat in laboratories,” Hyde-Smith said in a news release. “American consumers deserve to know the food they eat is unadulterated, wholesome, and properly labeled, and the federal agencies responsible for these guarantees deserve clear direction from Congress over jurisdiction.”
The legislation would put cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry under FSIS jurisdiction. The regulatory shift would be made through amending the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, which are the primary guidelines that govern FSIS jurisdiction and oversight responsibilities.
Over the past year, the USDA and FDA have been at odds as to which agency would be responsible for the budding industry of cell-cultured meat products. Back in March, the agencies made a formal agreement to share the responsibility of the industry. Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and as chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security, noted her appreciation that an agreement could be made but expressed concern over its ambiguity.
“While I am encouraged by the USDA-FDA framework, it is nonbinding and subject to modification or termination every three years,” Hyde-Smith said. “My bill essentially codifies the terms of that agreement. The fact that FDA and USDA have agreed to identify necessary changes to statutory authority confirms the need for a legislative fix as I’ve proposed.”
The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry for consideration.