In Food in Canada: Answering Food Safety Questions about Lab Grown Meat
In the article, titled “The Food Safety Advantages of Lab-Grown Meat,” Burton affirms that there’s no question that lab grown meat (also referred to as cell-based meat, cultured meat, or synthetic meat) presents truly exciting opportunities for innovation in the food industry. The ethical and environmental implications look promising if not groundbreaking. Issues around cost, production time, social stigma, and more are all being debated as the products get closer and closer to hitting grocery stores and restaurants.
But what about the food safety implications? As cell-based meat products are coming up for review by regulatory bodies (notably in the EU and USA), questions around how to regulate this emerging market are brewing. Most prominently, regulators and industry experts are asking: should lab-grown meat be regulated in the same way as traditional meat products?
Burton notes that it is too early to say for certain exactly what risks cellular agriculture pose and how such risks would be identified and controlled through existing food safety frameworks. However, we can anticipate that the regulatory standards of the meat and poultry industries will not be necessary – at least in the same way – for a few reasons.
After outlining the ways in which the meat and poultry industry are particularly susceptible to food safety hazards throughout the entire supply chain, Burton suggests some important differences to consider:
A significant number of these hazards would no longer apply when meat is grown in a lab-based environment. For example, the risk of bacterial contamination from food found in the digestive tract of animals brought to slaughter would be completely eliminated. Without animals grazing in a field, there is no possibility of exposure to pesticides. Without exposure to bacteria, there is no need for antibiotics.
The window for risk is also narrowed since cellular agriculture is comparatively faster, translating into less labour, waste, and time for hazards to be introduced, and requires considerably less equipment overall, further reducing potential for contamination. Instead, lab-grown meat producers can exercise very tight control over genetic stock used to seed the bioreactor, allowing them to screen out cancers, genetic diseases, and more.Steven Burton, Founder & CEO, Icicle Technologies
It is worth repeating that the new food safety risks that could be introduced by the novel production processes are still under review. Safety risks usually associated with laboratory environments would surely apply. Burton concludes,
Overall, it does seem likely that lab-grown meat production will be comparatively safer than the norm today. Cell-based meat products also have the potential to be of higher quality (due to tightly controlled genetic stock) and more nutritious, sustainable, and compassionate. With the recent launch of the Canadian Food Innovation Network and Ontario Genomics’ Accellerate-ON co-funding competition, we can look forward to seeing more innovations in cellular agriculture closer to home. For these emerging leaders in cellular agriculture, creating a culture around food safety and operational excellence will be essential to earn the trust of consumers. Food companies that maintain the highest standards to maximize efficiency while prioritizing safety and quality finished product will stand out and succeed.Steven Burton, Founder & CEO, Icicle Technologies
Companies that take advantage of innovative software to manage their production processes will be the most adaptable going forward. With Icicle ERP, you can integrate all aspects of the food production process under one application, all rooted in the framework of the highest food safety and quality standards. With real-time data and automated food safety and traceability, generating and maintaining documentation is quick and straightforward.
As Icicle users TMRW Foods and Big Mountain Foods have shown, Icicle is an ideal choice for food businesses that want to maintain rigorous and technologically advanced food production facilities that burst the mold of what we think of food.
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