FAO/WHO Report Emphasizes Safety as Crucial for the Future of Lab Meat

Meat consumption is relished across the world, however, the current state of livestock production and its significant contribution to global greenhouse emissions and unsustainable practices, such as deforestation and animal welfare issues, point towards an imminent shift in the future of meat consumption. Consequently, there is a rising interest in alternative meat sources.

The agrifood sector is experiencing a revolutionary transformation through new technologies and scientific innovations, presenting fascinating alternatives to traditional meat consumption. Among these emerging innovations, lab meat or cell-based meat stands out as a promising development that could profoundly influence the way we approach meat consumption.

Winston Churchill’s visionary prophecy predicting that one day – “we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium” – is gradually turning into reality.  Today, different technology pioneers worldwide such as Orbillion Bio or Mzansi Meat are actively working on making this vision come true, as they delve into the development of cell-based steaks and traditional African meat dishes.

Without a doubt, immediate action to address potential safety concerns is essential. Additionally, establishing the safety of lab-grown meat, as a promising sustainable alternative for future meat consumption, plays a pivotal role in garnering consumer acceptance right from the start.

Some key figures regarding cell-based meat:


Fortune Business Insights, stipulates that the market for meat substitutes products is expected to grow from USD 5.88 billion in 2022 to USD 12.30 billion in 2029.  The market for cultivated meat products is also growing rapidly and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 51.6% from 2023 to 2030. Cultivated meat, also known as lab-grown or cell-based meat, is produced by taking cells from an animal and growing them in a lab to create muscle tissue.  This technology is still in its early stages, but there are growing numbers of startups and companies working on developing cultivated meat products.  Just recently, Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of cultivated meat products, so we can expect to see more of these products on the market soon.  However, ensuring the safety and quality of these products is crucial for their widespread acceptance and adoption.

In April 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and The World Health Organization (WHO) jointly released a report titled “Food Safety Aspects of Cell-Based Food”.  The report offers a comprehensive overview of the food safety considerations concerning cell-based foods, commonly referred to as “cultured meat.”

The report highlights the key areas of concern for food safety in cell-based food production, including the sourcing and characterization of cells, the cultivation process, the harvesting and processing of cells, and the final product formulation. It also addresses the potential hazards and risks associated with cell-based food production, such as microbial contamination, chemical and physical hazards, and the potential for unintended effects on human health.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:


The report provides valuable insights into the food safety aspects of cell-based foods. One of the key findings is that there are several potential hazards and risks associated with cell-based food production, such as microbial contamination, chemical and physical hazards, and unintended effects on human health. The report emphasizes the need for further research and risk assessments to ensure the safety and quality of cell-based food products.

“Examples of potential concerns include the use of animal-based serum in the culture media, which may introduce both microbiological and chemical contamination.”

The report also highlights the importance of establishing regulatory frameworks and guidelines to ensure the safety and promote consumer confidence in cell-based foods. It states that the current regulatory frameworks for traditional meat production may not be suitable for cell-based foods, and therefore, specific regulations and guidelines are required for this emerging field.

Regulatory Framework for Cell-Based Foods


The regulatory framework for cell-based foods is still in the early stages of development. Currently, several countries, including the United States, Singapore, and Israel, have established regulatory frameworks for cell-based foods. These frameworks vary in terms of their approach and requirements.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly regulate cell-based meat products. The FDA oversees the pre-market safety assessment of cell-based meat products, while the USDA oversees the production and labeling of these products.

Similarly, in Singapore, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) regulates cell-based meat products and has established specific requirements for the safety assessment, production, and labeling of these products.

In Israel, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development jointly regulate cell-based meat products and have established specific requirements for the safety assessment, production, and labeling of these products.

The Role of the National Food Safety Portal (NFSP)


The NFSP is an online platform that provides information and resources related to food safety. It is a collaborative effort between the FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) and aims to support countries in improving their food safety systems.

The NFSP provides a comprehensive database of food safety regulations and guidelines from around the world. It also provides access to training materials, tools, and best practices for food safety management.

In the context of cell-based foods, the NFSP can play a crucial role in promoting the safety and quality of these products. It can provide information on the current regulatory frameworks and guidelines for cell-based foods, as well as best practices for their production and safety assessment.

Years Down The Road…


As we explore the fascinating world of cultivated meat, we come to realize how important it is to gain thorough knowledge about this emerging novelty. Also, for cultivated meat to be widely accepted and adopted by the general population, ensuring food safety will become a top priority.

This report “Food Safety Aspects of Cell-Based Food,”  published by the FAO and WHO shows the way forward and guides us through the intricacies of cell-based food production. By highlighting key concerns and emphasizing the necessity for extensive research and risk assessments, the report underscores the importance of guaranteeing the safety and quality of cell-based food products. It further emphasizes the urgency of establishing robust regulatory frameworks and guidelines to foster consumer trust and confidence in this nascent field.

The publication of this report signifies a significant milestone in the evolution of the cultivated meat industry. It is both inspiring and reassuring to witness important organizations like the FAO and WHO taking proactive measures to ensure the sustainable and responsible growth of this emerging sector. 


Read the full report here.



1. The Good Food Institute. (n.d.). Cultivated Meat, Eggs, and Dairy: State of the Industry Report. Retrieved from https://gfi.org/resource/cultivated-meat-eggs-and-dairy-state-of-the-industry-report/

2. Fortune Business Insights. (n.d.). Meat Substitutes Market. Retrieved from https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/meat-substitutes-market-100239

3. Vividata. (n.d.). Home – Vividata. Retrieved from https://vividata.ca/

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