Hong Kong CFS Published Food Safety Article on Cultured Meat

Plant Based Meat Burger

Hong Kong CFS published a food safety article on cultured meat on their website. Cultured meat is recently a topic attracting increasing interest.  Cultured meat, also referred to as lab-grown meat, in vitro meat, etc, is meat produced from animal cell culture techniques.  It is intended to be consumed as an alternative to conventional meat products.

The authority highlighted that in the safety assessment of cultured meat, the information required generally involves information on production, data on composition, allergenicity, toxicological and nutritional aspects, etc.  Aspects evaluated in the safety assessment of cultured meat generally include:

  • Characterisation of the cultured meat
    • Identity and purity (e.g. major components and impurities present)
    • Structure
    • Physical and chemical properties
  • Production process
    • Detailed description of the production process
    • Information such as the source and preparation of cell lines, culture media and scaffolding materials used, purity and genetic stability of cell culture during the manufacturing process
  • Compositional data
  • Specifications
    • Key chemical, physical and microbiological parameters
  • Proposed uses and levels of consumption
    • Target groups
    • Consumption amount
    • Estimate of exposure to undesirable substances
    • Precautions and restrictions of use
    • Any use in other countries/places
  • Toxicokinetics information
    • Absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion
  • Nutritional information
  • Toxicological information
    • Acute toxicity
    • Chronic toxicity
    • Carcinogenicity
    • Genotoxicity
    • Reproductive and developmental toxicity
  • Allergenicity
  • Analytical detection method
  • Any safety assessment reports conducted by food safety authorities in other countries/places; and
  • Any other relevant information to support the safety (e.g. digestibility assays for cultured meat).

Although there’s no specific standard for cultured meat in Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132), all food for sale in Hong Kong should be wholesome and fit for human consumption.  The general requirements in the Ordinance apply to all foods including cultured meat.  Developers of cultured meat should ensure that the cultured meat products are safe for human consumption.

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