The Netherlands has joined an exclusive club of countries like Singapore, Israel and the US that allow tastings of cultivated meat, fish and seafood samples. Companies will now be able to gather “real feedback” on cell-based prototypes and give some selected consumers their first experience with novel foods.
The code of practice, released yesterday, was created by Dutch authorities in collaboration with Netherlands-based cultivated meat producers Meatable and Mosa Meat and sector representative HollandBio.
With the approval, companies will be able to test cell-based meat products following similar guidelines like the ones established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), “albeit in a leaner form.”
“Whereas novel foods are typically evaluated by EFSA for chronic consumption, tasting sessions are intended for a single or a few times only and in limited amounts. This involves a more proportionate risk assessment approach, versus a more extensive procedure done by EFSA,” explains the new code of practice.
“We’re delighted that we will soon be able to hold tastings in the Netherlands. This is an important way to build familiarity with our cultivated pork products, further optimize for taste and help people to understand that this is real meat,” a Meatable spokesperson tells Food Ingredients First. “We believe tastings are an important part of the education needed about cultivated meat. Once people have tasted cultivated meat, they will realize it is real meat and will be excited to add it to their diet. That way we can start making the positive impact we envision.”
“This is a great achievement for the Dutch government and another proof point that the Netherlands is a global leader in agriculture and food innovation,” says Maarten Bosch, CEO of Mosa Meat.
The importance of feedback
Both Mosa Meat and Meatable highlight how the new law allows them to bring their products to the next level.
“Mosa Meat will use these controlled tastings to gather invaluable feedback on our products and to educate key stakeholders about the role cellular agriculture can play in helping Europe meet our food sovereignty and sustainability goals,” Bosch underscores.
“For Meatable, this means that we can allow consumers to taste and experience our products, and make our products even better with their feedback. Our goal is to make tasty cultivated meat that is indistinguishable from traditional meat available to everyone, without harming people, animals or our planet. This development brings that goal closer,” adds Krijn de Nood, CEO at Meatable.
Meatable tells us that their first tasting will be a mix of food specialists and general audience consumers to be able to receive input from a wide range of people.
Cellular Agriculture Netherlands will oversee the code of practice and appoint a panel of experts to assess the applications of firms that want to conduct cultivated meat and seafood tastings.
Cellular Agriculture Netherlands is the body tasked with executing the National Growth Fund, which plans to invest €252 to €382 million (US$272 million to US$413 million) in cellular agriculture.
“All our research shows that cultivated meat is safe – we have an internal food safety team and have had multiple external experts examine our products to ensure they are safe, including two toxicology tests. But there are currently no universal safety standards for cultivated meat, so we will work closely with the relevant Dutch regulators toensure we are always working to the highest standards,” explains the spokesperson.
“Recently we received approval from the Singapore Food Agency to hold our first tasting there – the agency has a clear framework of criteria that companies need to meet and we were able to fulfill all these criteria, including safety reassurances.”
All tastings will need to be evaluated by an independent expert committee composed of a toxicologist, microbiologist, physician and an expert on ethical issues.
“An approval for a tasting will comprise a maximum of ten similar tasting sessions with a maximum of 30 persons per tasting and over a maximum time span of one year,” notes the new regulations.
Historic day for cultivated meat
Yesterday also marked the first-ever sale of Good Meat in the US, where a group of diners in Washington DC could taste charcoal-grilled cultivated chicken cooked by Spanish chef José Andrés.
The dinner comes two weeks after Good Meat, the cultivated meat division food technology company Eat Just, received full US regulatory approval to sell its chicken to US consumers.
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