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Following the issuance of the world’s first regulatory approval of cell-based meat, Singapore authorities are now encouraging cultured meat makers to apply early for regulatory approval. With the priority on ensuring safety, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) says that firms should start the regulatory process as early as possible, so as to allow for ample testing and control before being approved for sale.
Just a month after approving Eat Just’s cultured chicken bites for commercial sale and becoming the first country in the world to do so, Singapore authorities are now telling food techs to follow in the San Francisco startup’s footsteps to kickstart their applications for regulatory approval early in the process.
“SFA encourages food innovators to engage regulators early in their development process to facilitate the regulatory approval process,” said the agency, in a statement to FoodNavigator, adding that it has put in place a “novel food regulatory framework” that ensures cell-based alternative proteins will meet the stringent food safety standards before being sold in the city-state.
“Companies developing cell-based meat or cultured meat can continue to approach SFA to discuss the safety assessment of their products, and several cultured meat companies have already done so,” the SFA continued.
SFA encourages food innovators to engage regulators early in their development process to facilitate the regulatory approval process.SFA
Regarding whether startups that apply for regulatory approval need to have a production site based in Singapore to increase their chances of success, given that Eat Just has recently partnered with Proterra to launch a new manufacturing facility in the city-state, the SFA reiterated that by far the top consideration is food safety.
“Food safety is SFA’s principal consideration, hence the approval is contingent on the company’s food product being safe for consumption,” it said in the same statement sent to FoodNavigator.
While the SFA’s guidelines for its novel food regulatory framework is subject to updates and revisions over time, especially as the alternative protein sector continues to explode at a rapid pace, its current rules require companies to submit safety assessments for review, and to provide details of their manufacturing process and how food safety risks are minimised.
In Eat Just’s case, the entire process that led to its major feat of winning over regulators in Singapore to bring its cultured chicken to market came after many months involving the team providing extensive documents and characterisation of its antibiotic-free cultured chicken products and demonstrating the manufacturing operations behind it in 1,200-litre bioreactors.
Food safety is SFA’s principal consideration, hence the approval is contingent on the company’s food product being safe for consumption.SFA
The first diners tasted the cultured chicken bites on December 16 at 1880, a restaurant located in Robertson Quay in Singapore, who served three different dishes inspired by the cuisines of China, the U.S. and Brazil – representing the three biggest poultry producers in the world.
Industry watchers are bullish on more developments in Singapore for the cell-based meat sector, given the country’s now leading reputation as a food tech innovation hub with a supportive government keen to push forward sustainable protein production.
“A new space race for the future of food is underway. As nations race to divorce meat production from industrial animal agriculture, countries that delay their investment in this bright food future risk getting left behind,” said Bruce Friedrich, executive director of alternative protein nonprofit the Good Food Institute (GFI), in a statement about the world’s first approval of cultured protein.
“The rest of the world should be following Singapore’s lead by funding alternative protein research and working with companies to ensure a rigorous and thorough path to regulatory approval and oversight.”
Lead image courtesy of Eat Just.