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FAO meeting on cell-based food and precision fermentation

November 6, 2023

Today (6 November), a stakeholder roundtable meeting was held in Shanghai, China, to discuss the latest development of cell-based food and precision fermentation, collecting insights and experiences from the developers and producers, so that relevant food safety considerations can be updated, contributing to effective risk assessment for competent authorities. Cell-based food refers to products that are developed by culturing cells isolated from animals, while precision fermentation is a process that uses microorganisms to produce specific food compounds and ingredients.

The meeting was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA) and featured 15 presenters sharing insights about their cell-based food or precision fermentation products, production processes and the strategies they have implemented to ensure food safety. The meeting was attended by a total of 46 people including various Chinese government officials and researchers, in addition to the private-sector presenters and organizers from various parts of the world.

During the one-day meeting, a special session was held to focus on the topic of food safety dossier development for regulatory requirements. Presenters who have concrete experience in developing such dossiers shared their knowledge, such as what elements were contained in the documents, what food safety assessments were conducted and how the relevant data were presented in the dossiers. They also discussed the levels of information included in the documents and offered practical suggestions for fellow producers planning to develop food safety dossiers. While regulatory processes and requirements among different countries and jurisdictions can significantly vary, essential food safety considerations can be common among competent authorities. Some regulatory agencies offer informal pre-submission consultation opportunities for companies with specific questions, and such consultation sessions have been found useful for both regulators and industry to achieve positive overall outcome to ensure food safety, according to meeting participants.

The meeting highlighted the key trends in cell-based food as of 2023, including the use of advanced bioreactors to facilitate scaling up, the development of low-cost food-grade media, and the availability of off-the-shelf approved inputs such as cell lines, scaffolds, growth factors, among others. In terms of precision fermentation, it was observed that this field is experiencing significant growth. Specifically, precision fermentation is now widely used for a variety of food additives and processing aids. During the event, new developments in precision fermentation were discussed for the production of enzymes used for dough improvement for bakeries, as well as the production of myoglobin and gelatin to improve texture, and other features of a variety of food products.

As the 15 presenters are from a total of nine different countries, the meeting provided an opportunity for the stakeholders to exchange knowledge and experiences at the global scale. Participants, including presenters and regulatory authorities, have recognized the existing food safety assurance approaches can cover the majority of food safety issues for both cell-based foods and precision fermentation. Furthermore, it was recognized that transparent communication with the general public about the assurance mechanisms is an important task for both in the public and private sectors.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

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