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Our Views Columns

Date: 6/14/2018

Title: Fake Meat Manufacturers Are Calling for FDA Oversight. Will Anybody Listen?

Somebody has been reading the Good Food Institute’s talking points. In a recent op-ed published by Forbes, former Obama Administration official Susan B. Dudley calls on Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate lab-grown fake meat products.

After repeating the typical environmental and animal welfare critiques that have been used against the beef industry ad-nauseum (find some new material, would ya?), Dudley claims that the FDA should regulate lab-grown fake meat because the production process does not involve slaughter. This is a text book argument advanced by fake meat promoters. In fact, the Good Food Institute wrote a blog post with the same claim way back in April 2017. 

The manufacturers of fake meat products may prefer FDA oversight, but anyone who cares about the health and welfare of consumers should be concerned by this approach. USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service is the agency best-placed to ensure lab-grown fake meat products are safe and accurately labeled.

Do USDA’s exacting standards impose regulatory burdens on food producers? Absolutely. But the benefits for consumers are immense. For starters, USDA oversight ensures any perishable meat food product (including those that are imported) is safe for human consumption. USDA also requires labels to be based on sound science, a key protection for consumers against false or deceptive marketing claims.

The House Appropriations Committee recently voted to support of USDA oversight of lab-grown fake meat (on a bipartisan basis, no less). It’s time for USDA to take the lead.