WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled a plan to jointly oversee regulation of cell-cultured meats derived from livestock and poultry.

The proposed joint regulatory framework will have FDA oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. Production and labeling of food products derived from cultured cells of livestock and poultry will fall into USDA’s jurisdiction.

“This regulatory framework will leverage both the FDA’s experience regulating cell-culture technology and living biosystems and the USDA’s expertise in regulating livestock and poultry products for human consumption,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “USDA and FDA are confident that this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products.”

The agencies released the statement as federal lawmakers continue work on a new farm bill, which includes a provision that would give USDA total oversight of cell-cultured meats.

“Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the Administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary,” the statement said.

Meat industry stakeholders have supported USDA playing a leading role in regulating “fake meat.” Colin Woodall, senior vice president of Government Affairs at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), said the agencies’ announcement “…is a step in the right direction” because USDA would have primary jurisdiction over important facets of lab-produced meat.

“But there is still a lot of work to do on this issue to ensure that real beef producers and consumers are protected and treated fairly,” Woodall said. “We look forward to continuing our work with the Administration and Congress as this moves forward, and we continue to encourage producers to file official comments with USDA and FDA between now and Dec. 26.”

In August, the North American Meat Institute and Memphis Meats, a cell-cultured meat producer, said in a joint letter to President Trump that USDA and FDA both “…have roles to play in regulating cell-based meat and poultry products. To ensure the regulatory system protects consumers while fostering innovation, it is imperative that the agencies coordinate and collaborate in their efforts, consistent with established policy.”

Gottlieb and Perdue noted that the FDA and USDA are refining technical details of the framework which will include “…robust collaboration and information sharing between the agencies to allow each to carry out our respective roles.”