FDA's recent approval for cultivated chicken from Upside Foods in the U.S. on November 16 set a positive tone for the adoption of cultivated meat and other innovative food in global markets. One month after the FDA's approval, another milestone was reached. On December 22, the AgFood Future Center of Excellence (AGF) and the Agriculture Food Partnership (AFP) co-organized an online event where, for the first time, regulatory experts from two of the largest potential markets for meat innovation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA), conferred on the regulatory approval process and prospects for cultivated meat in these two major markets. The event was supported and attended by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and the China Meat Association (CMA), who are also major influencers in developing China's protein innovation market.
The Agfood Future Center of Excellence (AGF), the main organizer for this event, has been facilitating protein innovation development in China since 2018, including partnering with AFP to organize ongoing policy dialogues between Chinese and U.S. regulators and industry representatives. "These meetings provide opportunities for start-ups, financiers, and ultimately all players involved in protein innovation," said Ryan Xue, the Chairman of Agfood Future. Xue believes "This in-depth sharing between the U.S. and China will have far-reaching significance for governments and industries interested in seeing the adoption of food innovation that will help shape food innovation and the future of food in the U.S., China, and the world." In the words of Jennifer Lee, the Executive Director of AFP, "We are at a time of '天时地利人和/Tianshi Dili Renhe' (a Chinese idiom) when we are seeing an alignment of time, the (circumstances on) earth, and (among) people." Only by bringing together industry leaders, technical experts, investment institutions, and regulators around protein innovation can we realize food production and systems that deliver safe, quality, affordable, and nutritious food to consumers while achieving food security.
Jeremiah Fasano, Senior Policy Advisor, at the FDA's Regulatory Review Office, provided a keynote at the event. Fasano played a key role in Upside's pre-market approval process and is an FDA expert on cultivated meat. He expressed FDA's ongoing support for food technology innovation, encouraging industry representatives to connect "early and often" to "discuss the development of food technology, promote industry development, and solve food safety problems together." Fasano also shared his view on the prospect of the meat innovation industry, stating that the "FDA is communicating with different companies, and we are preparing public guidelines for the industry." He further explained, "As companies engage with more regulators, more reviews and approvals get completed, adding to the global body of knowledge to jointly promote food technology innovation and food safety."
Xiaohong Wang, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's (MARA)'s Deputy Director of China's Institute of Food and Nutrition Development, expressed that while Chinese regulatory authorities continue to attach great importance to food safety and will continue to conduct safety assessments on innovative meat products, they will also consider the contribution of the development of new technologies to meet the market's increasing demand for the supply of protein, while also comprehensively considering consumers' acceptance of cultivated meat and other products. Yan Song, Director of Division III Risk Assessment, CFSA, highlighted, "China will focus more on the food safety assessment of cell-cultivated meat in 2023. In addition, 2023 plans include setting up expert working groups to ensure innovation, industry development, and food safety move forward together." Song expressed appreciation for the platform and events organized by AgFood Future along with AFP and looks forward to a future follow-up in 2023.
A platform for international collaboration, AgFood Future is a nonprofit that connects 400+ of the world's leading organizations around the common goal of agri-food sustainability for food system transformation in China and throughout global supply chains.