The Netherlands allows tastings of cultured meat

The Netherlands will allow tastings of lab-grown cultured meat from animal stem cells. This allows cultured meat producers to have their products tasted before starting the ‘novel food’ approval process. For example, producers can, if necessary, adjust their product before the procedure to improve the taste experience.

This is what the interim Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) Piet Adema and the interim Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) Ernst Kuipers write in a letter to Parliament. With the letter, they are responding to a motion by MPs De Groot (D66) and Valstar (VVD), calling for consultation with Dutch cultured meat producers to make tastings possible under controlled and safe conditions.

Code of Conduct

The ministries of LNV and VWS have entered into discussions with two Dutch cultured meat producers and the interest group of biotech companies in the Netherlands, HollandBio, to make cultured meat tastings possible. A Code of Practice (CoP) was developed based on these discussions.

Ministers stress that cultured meat is an unauthorized ‘novel food’. The safety of meat has not yet been assessed on the basis of the European Novel Food Regulation. The CoP offers a technically harmonized framework that allows producers to carry out tastings under their own responsibility.

Evaluate the safety of tastings

The CoP makes it possible to assess the safety of tastings. A committee of independent experts conducts these assessments. This committee will be part of the Dutch Foundation for Cellular Agriculture (CAN), which coordinates the implementation of the ecosystem development plan for cellular agriculture on behalf of LNV. In October 2022, the National Growth Fund made 60 million euros available for this plan.

Cultured meat producers also want to invite investors and journalists to tastings. The objective is, on the one hand, to increase investments and, on the other hand, to improve consumer acceptance of cultured meat.

The Netherlands seem to want to play a pioneering role in the area of ​​cultured meat. While cultured meat can already be sold in the United States and Singapore, this is not the case in the European Union (EU). With the Code of Conduct, the Netherlands is now taking a step towards embracing cultured meat.

Italy prohibits the production, sale and import

Incidentally, there are big differences within the EU when it comes to attitudes towards cultured meat. While the Netherlands wants to facilitate cultured meat tastings, the Italian government wants to ban cultured meat. It is accompanied by a bill that should restrict the production, sale and import of cultured meat in Italy.

In Spain, the Brazilian agrifood giant JBS has just launched the construction of the largest cultured meat factory in the world. The company is investing around 38 million euros in the site, which should be able to produce more than 1,000 tonnes of cultured protein on an annual basis. In the medium term, the capacity can be increased to 4,000 tons.

Author: Wouter Hoeffnagel
Image: Andreas Lischka from Pixabay

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