First approval of laboratory-grown meat applied for in the EU

First approval of laboratory-grown meat applied for in the EU

Heidelberg-based Cultivated B is the first company in the world to submit an application to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for approval of a cell-based sausage product.

Both visually and in terms of taste, the hot dogs from the lab are supposed to be very close to the original.

Singapore and the USA are the only countries in the world where meat from the laboratory is already approved. In the EU, cell-based meat is not yet available for sale. Applications have not yet been submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), not least because the approval procedure for novel foods covered by the so-called Novel Food Regulation is extremely strict. The first step towards an application for approval has now been taken by the Heidelberg-based biotechnology company The Cultivated B (TCB).

Pre-application process for EU approval initiated

TCB, a subsidiary of German food manufacturer Infamily Foods, has become the first company in the world to apply for EFSA approval for a cell-based sausage product. According to the company, the pre-application process for EFSA certification for a "sausage from controlled cultivation" was initiated in mid-September. "The European cultured meat sector has enormous potential and significant growth opportunities. As this market continues to grow in importance, our goal is to ensure access to high quality, sustainable meat for everyone. EFSA certification is an important step in this direction," says Hamid Noori, CEO of TCB.

Hot dog made with vegan ingredients and cell based pork

Specifically, the company is seeking approval for a so-called hybrid sausage product. The sausage resembles the scalded sausages used in hot dogs and consists of vegan ingredients as well as cell-based pork grown in a bioreactor. The hybrid sausage is also said to rival the taste of the original. It will "ensure consumers experience the familiar, delicious taste they love while benefiting from a sustainably and ethically produced product," TCB said in a press release. The lab-grown sausage was developed in close collaboration with TCB's sister company, The Family Butchers.

TCB's pre-application for approval also aims to address existing concerns among many consumers about food safety and compliance in cultured meat. "EFSA's approval process for novel foods is among the most robust in the world and includes a thorough and evidence-based assessment of food safety and nutritional value. "The availability of cultured meat in Europe would represent a paradigm shift for the sector," says Seth Roberts, Policy Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe.

Paving the way for large-scale commercial production and start-ups

For TCB, the application for approval is a "crucial first step in the development of the cultured meat market" and towards "large-scale commercial production", where the company intends to take a "leading role". In addition, the Heidelberg-based biotech company also hopes the approval process will "pave the way for startups in this field to achieve viable and scalable commercialization by setting new standards for food safety, innovation and accessibility."

In the coming months, EFSA experts will conduct a risk assessment of the lab sausage developed by TCB. Experience shows that the approval process is lengthy and can take at least 18 months, according to estimates by industry experts.