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April 20, 2023

FAO and WHO Issue Publication on Food-Safety Aspects of Cell-Based Food

Lynn L Bergeson

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On April 5, 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report on the food safety aspects of cell-based food, which is animal agricultural products grown directly from cell cultures. FAO, in collaboration with WHO, developed the report to engage with respective members and relevant stakeholders “by proactively sharing the current knowledge to identify concrete ways to inform consumers and all other stakeholders about the food safety considerations for cell-based food products.” The report includes a literature synthesis of relevant terminology issues, principles of cell-based food production processes, and the global landscape of regulatory frameworks for cell-based food production. The report includes case studies from Israel, Qatar, and Singapore to highlight different scopes, structures, and contexts surrounding their regulatory frameworks for cell-based food. The results of the November 2022 FAO-led expert consultation, where comprehensive food safety hazard identification was conducted, form the core of the report. According to the report, during the expert consultation, all potential hazards were discussed in the four stages of the cell-based food production: cell-sourcing; cell growth and production; cell harvesting; and food processing. According to FAO, the way forward will consist of continuing to invest in research and development to understand whether the alleged benefits in increased sustainability can be realized. FAO states that in this regard, “it will be important to closely observe as to what extent, if any, cell-based foods result in differences from conventionally produced foods.”