Food safety and quality

FAO/WHO release report identifying food safety hazards of cell-based food


FAO, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), published its first global report on the food safety aspects of cell-based food today. The publication includes the results of an FAO-led expert consultation that was held in Singapore in November 2022, where a comprehensive food safety hazard identification was conducted. Hazard identification is the first step of the formal risk assessment process.

The publication was launched during a joint FAO/WHO webinar on 5 April 2023. It includes a literature synthesis of relevant terminology issues, principles of cell-based food production processes, the global landscape of regulatory frameworks and case studies from Israel, Qatar and Singapore.

 “FAO, together with WHO, supports its Members by providing scientific advice that can be useful for food safety competent authorities to use as a basis to manage various food safety issues,” said Corinna Hawkes, FAO Director of the Food Systems and Food Safety Division.

“The publication we are launching today has the full results of the world’s first food safety hazard identification conducted by experts,” Hawkes said at the opening of the webinar. “This will provide all of you with a solid scientific basis to start establishing an effective system to ensure the safety of cell-based foods.”

Cell-based food production involves culturing cells isolated from animals to develop various end products such as muscle and fat tissues of cattle, pork, poultry, fish, crustaceans, quail or even kangaroo.

Cell-based foods are not futuristic foods. More than 100 companies/start-ups are already developing cell-based food products that are ready for commercialization and awaiting approval. Ahead of the commercial production of cell-based foods expands, it is necessary to address one of the most important issues for consumers: food safety. Many food safety agencies are working to identify the potential food safety implications so that appropriate regulatory frameworks can be established to protect consumers.

The objective for the FAO/WHO publication is to capture key food safety issues in a timely manner, before products are widely available on the world market. This way, relevant authorities, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, will be equipped with up-to-date information and scientific knowledge on cell-based food production. This will allow them to learn from the experiences of others as well as consider appropriate regulatory actions in their national contexts.

FAO continues to support its Members to assure any food, no matter how it is produced, is safe for the consumer.

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