A Tel Aviv-based Clean Meat company is calling on the US Government to promote its product - saying it can improve food safety.
Clean meat - also known as lab, cultured, or bio meat, is made from animal cells. While it is not vegan, it is supported by a number of vegans because of its potential to lessen the number of animals slaughtered for food. It is also reportedly more environmentally-friendly than traditional livestock rearing.
Now company Aleph Farms is calling on the US Department of Agriculture [USDA] to promote clean meat for its safety advantages over animal flesh, such as being antibiotic free and pathogen free.
Aleph Farms' action follows the US Cattlemen’s Association ([USCA] petitioning the USDA to restrict the terms 'beef' and 'meat' only to slaughtered animal-based products.
The USCA wants the Government to force clean meat producers to differentiate the product from traditional beef. According to the organization: "The labels of 'beef' or 'meat' should inform consumers that the product is derived naturally from animals as opposed to alternative proteins such as plants and insects or artificially grown in a laboratory.
"Alternative products such as those described above should thus not be permitted to be labeled as 'beef', which is widely understood by consumers to be the flesh of a bovine animal, such as cattle, harvested for use as food, or as 'meat', which is understood to be derived from animal tissue or flesh for use as food."
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Antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasingly serious issue globally, leading to the FDA banning the use of antibiotics solely for animal-growth promotion in 2017.
But despite restrictions, the New York Times has reported that 70 - 80 percent of US antibiotic sales go to livestock. "This fact raises public health concerns about increased antibiotic resistance, which causes about 23,000 American deaths a year and $34 billion in financial losses annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]," says spokesperson for Aleph Farms.
The CDC estimates that more than 400,000 United States residents become ill with infections caused by antibiotic-resistant food-borne bacteria every year - and antibiotics may not prevent pathogens in meat.
Dr. Neta Lavon, Vice President of R&D at Aleph Farms, said: "Aleph Farms grows antibiotic-free clean meat outside of the animal in a safe, controlled environment, preventing the development of bacteria. Aleph Farms views its advanced 3D cellular agriculture technology as the next step in agricultural practices."
Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, added: "A key USDA role is to minimize consumer exposure to unsafe agricultural products, including meat,. In recent years, the USDA has implemented new proactive policies to reduce pathogens in animal products.
"The innovation of clean meat is a natural development in line with USDA policies to reduce exposure to pathogens. Most meat is contaminated during the slaughter process, and clean meat eliminates this risk."
It has been suggested that farmers are backing a ban on labeling clean meat 'meat', in a bid to quash the increasing threat posed by these tech companies.
But Toubia says: "We understand this is a sensitive issue for the cattlemen, but at Aleph Farms, we see the introduction of clean meat as an industry-wide opportunity, rather than a threat. We are not looking to replace farmed meat, but rather to offer an additional choice to the consumer.”
"Aleph Farms has tremendous respect for hardworking cattle farmers; my wife is a farmer, too. The farmers' role is to feed the world, so they should be willing to embrace new food production technologies."