An article published by the Telegraph on 29 September 2023, stated that UK politicians are keen to accelerate the ongoing regulatory process that must be completed before cultivated meat products are made legal for consumption.
Under current UK law, novel foods must gain authorisation from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a process that could take between 18 months and two years. However, a deal with Israel would see the two countries collaborate on cell-based meat research, potentially allowing for cultivated products to be made available sooner than previously expected.
The first application for the sale of cultivated meat in the UK was submitted by Aleph Farms in August 2023, an Israeli firm that has also made an application in Switzerland. Currently, the sale of cultivated meat products is only legal in Singapore and the US.
FSA keen to learn
Speaking on a potential link up with Israel, science minister George Freeman told the Telegraph: “Israel has very strong expertise in protein replacement and in agri-tech and turning deserts into a garden.”
He added: “It’s making sure that we’re able to maintain our very high food quality standards and international reputation, reduce the cost of living, and help develop the technologies that the world needs.”
In the same piece, deputy director of food policy at the FSA, James Cooper, said that the agency is “keen to learn” from other countries in order to support the regulatory process.
On the topic of cultivated meat being made legal, Cooper added: “The FSA is committed to supporting business innovation in new markets by delivering effective and proportionate regulation to protect consumers.”
Financial resources needed ‘urgently’
Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at think tank Good Food Institute Europe, welcomed the words of Freeman and his acknowledgement of cultivated meat’s potential to aid UK food security.
“Collaborating with other nations to accelerate their development can help the UK's burgeoning cultivated meat sector grow, delivering more choice for consumers and creating new green jobs,” Pardoe added.
“Sharing information and best practices between regulators internationally will help smooth the path to market for cultivated meat companies and maintain the highest standards of food safety.”
However, Pardoe believes that further funding for research is required from the Government to support the regulatory process.
Pardoe explained: “The Chancellor must urgently provide the financial resources the Food Standards Agency needs to deliver those reforms with a £30 million uplift in the FSA's budget in the upcoming Autumn Statement."