The Food Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) has accepted that the existing Food Standards Code and labelling requirements currently in place across Australia and New Zealand are suitably equipped to regulate new cultivated meat and precision fermentation products.
The findings follow a request made by the ministers in 2019 asking the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) to consider regulatory and labelling processes for ‘synthetic foods.’ This request was underpinned by a desire to develop policies and guidelines to differentiate what the Committee referred to as ‘synthetic’ products from their animal equivalents.
It was deemed during the most recent FMM held on the 25th of November that the existing approval process and labelling requirements across Australia and New Zealand are sufficiently suitable for foods produced via cell cultivation and precision fermentation.
In a communique from the meeting, the FMM:
- Affirmed FSANZ’s view that foods produced by cell culture and precision fermentation will be captured within existing standards in the (Food Standards) Code and require pre-market approval under Standard 1.5.1 Novel foods and Standard 1.5.2 Foods produced using gene technology.
- Affirmed that food produced by cell culture or precision fermentation is subject to the existing labelling requirements in the Code and Australian Consumer Law.
- Agreed that the term ‘synthetic foods’ is now too broad to usefully describe this area of food innovation, and therefore should now be referred to in more precise descriptive terms such as cell cultivation precision fermentation or descriptors appropriate to other new technologies that may emerge.
- Accepted advice from FRSC that at this time, ministerial policy guidelines are not required as the food regulation system in Australia and New Zealand is equipped to deal with new types of food, including foods produced by new technologies; and
- Food Ministers will continue to monitor the need for additional standards based on the number and nature of the applications received.
The communique also urged food companies to contact Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to discuss their regulatory obligations and for pre-application assistance.
READ MORE: Existing Food Standards Code deemed suitable for cell ag [Future Alternative] Food ministers accept advice on cultivated meat [Food & Drink Business]