Aleph Farms has become the first company to apply for permission to sell cultivated meat in Europe after submitting a safety dossier to regulators in Switzerland.
The Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) will deliberate over the application before potential approval is granted, with the process expected to take at least 12 months to complete. This will include a safety assessment and toxicological studies aimed at determining whether the food is safe for human consumption.
This model is similar to that employed by the EU, where any applications to sell cultured meat in a member state must be assessed under the Novel Food Regulation.
According to the Good Food Institute Europe, no applications for the sale of cultivated meat have been submitted to the EU up until this point.
Working closely with regulators
Aleph Farms unveiled the world’s first cultivated thin-cut steak in 2018 and has investors including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Swiss retail company, Migros. The news comes just over a month after two cultivated chicken products were approved for sale in the US, while its products have been on sale in Singapore since 2020.
“Food systems affect everyone, and it will take a coordinated effort between regulators, innovators and incumbents to ensure food security in a way that helps humanity live within its planetary boundaries,” said Didier Toubia, Aleph Farms chief executive.
“We look forward to working closely with Switzerland's Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office to enable access to both high-quality nutrition and world-changing innovation.”
‘Huge opportunity for Switzerland’
Seth Roberts, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said that approving the sale of cultivated meat in Switzerland would allow the country to dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
“Cultivated meat represents a huge opportunity for Switzerland to enhance its food security and create future-proof jobs, as it positions itself as a hub for food innovation,” Roberts added.
“With Italy trying to ban cultivated meat while countries like the Netherlands invest, Europe is sending mixed messages to companies who need certainty to be able to deliver on their potential. The EU must develop a coherent strategy to support the sustainable protein sector and ensure regulatory processes are clear, in order to reap the benefits of cultivated meat.”
This sentiment was echoed by Mathilde Alexandre, Corporate and Institutional Engagement Manager at ProVeg International, who described the news as an "encouraging step" and a sign that cultivated meat is gaining momentum.
"European nations must actively welcome more applications to ensure that the transformative potential of cultivated meat on the food system is realised as quickly as possible," she said.
“Cultivated meat presents a host of sustainability potential. One of the clearest potential environmental gains in cellular agriculture concerns the land dedicated to animal agriculture, as freed-up land areas could be used for reforestation, biodiversity protection, and rewilding, all of which would allow nature to regenerate and absorb more CO2.”