Risk Assessment of Cell-based Cultivated Food Products

Research Project:

Risk Assessment of Cell-based Cultivated Food Products

Brief Summary: This ILSI project takes a scientific approach to monitor the integrity and safety of cultivated meat, as well as hybrid and adulterated foods. The goal is to explore a presently unknown territory and prepare and develop a benchmark for what the risks are in each step of the process for the benefit of the consumer’s safety, the regulatory landscape, and the industrial production of these novel foods. Presented by Helene Tournu.

Rationale and Approach: With a global demand for animal-based protein estimated to double by 2050, fundamental changes in agriculture and food production seem inevitable. Providing food for this increasing population is a challenge that coincides with a growing pressure to reduce negative environmental impacts. Industrial biotechnology innovation and cellular agriculture in particular hold great promises in providing nutritious, safe and healthy food independently of seasonal and geographical inputs (1-3). Cellular agriculture, the technologies, and processes behind the production of cellular products (in vitro meat for example) and acellular products (such as ovalbumin), is an emerging science that leverages on stem cell biology, tissue engineering and animal sciences. The development and the commercialization of cultivated meat is progressing at unprecedented speed, which demands the identification of knowledge gaps relevant to its safety and risk to the consumers at a similar pace. An industry perspective of the food safety framework recently highlighted the research gaps and future assessment and requirement needs (4).

Objectives:

  • Contribute to cell-based product safety (within non-competitive spaces, such as genetic modifications approaches and outcomes that affect safety; assessment of final product compared to conventional product; standards for safe residue levels of required inputs (growth factors, antibiotics, scaffold, novel inputs))
  • Narrow the gap between a rapidly growing food sector and a limited pool of evidence-based, safety-related published studies (health and nutritional perspectives, multi-partite approach)
  • Advance the field of research pertaining to the safety aspects of “new elements” or “whole products” derived from lab-grown cell lines

Deliverables:

  • Pre-competitive large collaborative project (identify potential risk and risk factors during the process of producing cultivated meat; assess the occurrence of those risks; assess whether cultivated meat pauses health risks that conventional meat does not)
  • Relevant public-private partnership and network
  • Trans-disciplinary and international approach

References:

  1. Aschemann-Witzel, J., et al. (2021) Plant-based food and protein trend from a business perspective: markets, consumers, and the challenges and opportunities in the future. Crit rev Food Sci 61(18): 3119-3128.
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization. Food Systems.
  3. Rischer, H., et a. (2020) Cellular agriculture – industrial biotechnology for food and materials. Curr Opin Biotech 61: 128-134.
  4. Ong, K.J., et al. (2021) Food safety considerations and research priorities for the cultured meat and seafood industry. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf 20(6): 5421-5448.

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