Sécurité sanitaire et qualité des aliments

Takeaways from the Codex side event: Cell-based food regulatory frameworks in the Near East region


A new report on the safety and regulatory aspects of cell-based food in the Near East region has been published in March 2024. The publication reports a side event organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the occasion of the 11th Session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for the Near East (CCNE11) held in September 2023. Fifty-three participants from Near East countries attended the meeting, with eighteen in-person and thirty-five online attendees.

The report summarizes the discussions held at the event, including the information on relevant FAO/WHO activities such as the ongoing work by an informal Technical Working Group (TWG) consisting of regulatory experts from the public sector; and the FAO/WHO publication Food safety aspects of cell-based food which documents a comprehensive list of potential hazards and their possible causal chains.

Challenges within regional contexts, such as terminology issues in Arabic and local languages were highlighted, along with the status and readiness of regulatory frameworks at the national level. Delegates agreed that the topic of food safety aspects of cell-based can facilitate collaborative opportunities within the region, on various technical matters particularly food safety assessments. The report also documented the voices of various representatives from Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Islamic Republic of Iran and United Arab Emirates, emphasizing the importance of concerted efforts to navigate regulatory complexities and facilitate information exchanges on cell-based food among Codex Members.

Key discussion points highlighted in the report include:

  • Importance of raising public awareness and facilitating consumer acceptance of cell-based food.
  • Identification of suitable terminology in the regional language(s), potentially impacting specific regulations.
  • Emphasis on access to up-to-date information and data for competent food safety authorities, with FAO and WHO expected to play vital roles.
  • Opportunities for collaboration, such as sharing regulatory experiences, organizing regional events, and facilitating knowledge exchanges.

The CCNE11 side event spurred fruitful discussions on the regulatory status of cell-based food in the Near East region. Many CCNE countries expressed interest in joining the TWG, aiming to deepen their understanding of global regulatory environments and to establish appropriate food safety assessment procedures. This brief report offers insights into the evolving landscape of cell-based food regulations in general and particularly in the Near East region, shedding light on crucial needs for discussions and collaborative opportunities. Policymakers, regulators, industry professionals, researchers and educators can benefit from reading it to better understand the regulatory status and regional perspectives on food safety for cell-based food.

Download the side event report



FAO & WHO. 2024. Cell-based food in the context of the Near East region. Report of the side event to the 11th Session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Near East (CCNE11), Rome, Italy, 21 September 2023. Rome. https://doi.org/10.4060/cd0080en


For more information

FAO Food Safety and Quality: Cell-based food and precision fermentation

Codex Alimentarius: FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for the Near East (CCNE)

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