Food safety and quality

Experts and developers discuss ensuring the safety of cell-based foods


FAO and the Ministry of Health of Israel hosted a meeting on 7 September 2022 in Tel Aviv, Israel, where a group of researchers and developers gathered to discuss cell-based food. Speakers from different parts of the world focused on the products they are working on, how safety is (or will be) assured and their potential benefits to food security.

Speaking on behalf of Sharon Alroy-Preis, Head of Public Health Services, and Pnina Oren-Shneidor, Director of the National Food Service, both with the Ministry of Health of Israel, Ziva Hamama, Head of Food Risk Management Department welcomed the 43 participants, highlighting that researching and developing the cell-based food industry is of strategic interest to the country. “Israel is a fertile ecosystem for new technologies, and together with knowledge and experience we believe we have a good platform for the introduction of cell-based foods,” she said, underscoring that ensuring the safety aspects of foods is essential.

“At international level, we have different challenges – and I believe the one in front of us today is to define a common language to talk about these new products and new technology, said Markus Lipp, FAO Senior Food Safety Officer, who opened the day-long session. “Here we have a platform to hold a discussion that can lead to common language and ultimately find fit-for-purpose solutions together.

Stakeholders shared their experiences in cell-based production of meat (bovine, chicken, porcine), sushi and other seafood as well as milk. They delved into assuring the safety aspects, regulatory processes and consumer acceptance of the products.

Masami Takeuchi, FAO Food Safety Officer, provided an overview of the work on cell-based foods, in particular noting three publications underway on the terminologies, production process and current regulatory frameworks. “Many food safety authorities are working, often in tandem, to identify and address the potential food safety implications so that appropriate regulatory frameworks can be set up to protect consumers,” she said. Many other stakeholders, including researchers who study the food safety issues of cell-based food, private cell-based food developers and producers and non-governmental organizations are all working in this space to advance our collective knowledge.

Cell-based food products are also referred to as "cultured" or "cultivated" followed by the name of the commodity, such as meat, chicken or fish while the process can also be called “cellular agriculture”. Given the various terminology in use for this technology, internationally harmonized terms for the food products and production processes would facilitate understanding at global level.

Cell-based food production involves culturing cells isolated from animals followed by processing to produce food products that are comparable to the corresponding animal versions, such as meat, poultry, aquatic products, daily products and eggs.


Read more about cell-based food on the FAO Food Safety and Quality site

Visit the website of the National Food Services | Ministry of Health of Israel



Photo: © FAO/Mia Rowan

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