The recent formal agreement between the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to jointly oversee the regulation of cell-cultured foods is a win for America’s farmers and ranchers.

 “The American Farm Bureau Federation believes USDA should have primary jurisdiction over lab-grown or cell-cultured protein,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “We understand that FDA needs to play a role in determining the safety of cell-cultured products. We look forward to reviewing the joint framework outlining the regulatory process and will work with both USDA and FDA to ensure consumers are protected and our goals are met regarding labeling and food safety.”

Concerns about cell-cultured protein and its labeling were addressed in the Montana Legislature, as well, with HB 327, the Real Meat Act sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield (R) HD 59, Livingston. “The bill defines ‘cell-cultured edible product’ as the concept of meat, including but not limited to muscle cells, fat cells, connective tissue, blood, and other components produced via cell culture, rather than from a whole processed animal,” noted Liv Stavick, Montana Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist. “It clarifies the definition of meat by stating that the term does not include cell-cultured edible product and ensures that hamburger or ground beef only includes beef that meets the clarified definition of meat.”

In addition, the bill states that in both the Health and Safety Title and the Livestock Title that labeling cell-cultured edible protein as “meat” is misbranding and may not be done.

“Passage of HB 327 is important to Montana’s farmers and ranchers because we are proud of the high quality, real meat products we raise,” said Stavick. “We believe consumers deserve accurate and complete information about the food they consume and this bill will provide just that. Cell-cultured edible products are not yet commercially available, but when they enter the marketplace, Montana needs to be ready to identify them properly. We don’t want our consumers deceived into purchasing a product that may not be what they expect in taste, texture, nutrition or quality.”