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Cell-based food in the context of the Near East region

Report of the side event to the 11th Session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Near East (CCNE11), Rome, Italy, 21 September 2023








FAO & WHO. 2024. Cell-based food in the context of the Near East region – Report of the side event to the 11th Session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Near East (CCNE11), Rome, Italy, 21 September 2023. Rome. 



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    Food safety aspects of cell-based food
    Report of the publication launch webinar, 7 April 2023
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    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) held a webinar to launch the publication entitled “Food safety aspects of cell-based food” published in April 2023. The webinar was attended by a total of 1 015 participants from more than 75 countries.Cell-based food production involves culturing animal cells in a controlled environment to produce various types of food products. As this technology is constantly evolving, it is important for food safety authorities to keep up with science in order to understand how the products are developed and what food safety considerations are relevant when taking regulatory actions. The webinar included a lecture on the subject by the chairperson of the FAO-led expert consultation, who introduced the contents of the FAO/WHO publication and presented the results of the first global food safety hazard identification of cell-based food. Experts reported that most of the hazards identified were common to conventional food products and emphasized the importance for food safety competent authorities to focus on the materials, inputs and equipment specific to cell-based food production.Two regulatory experts from the governments of Singapore and Qatar took part in the webinar to introduce the case studies of their respective countries’ regulatory frameworks. These case studies illustrated the commonly held idea that a food safety assessment is one of the first steps within the regulatory frameworks presented in the case studies, despite the fact that other elements within the framework may be different. This was borne out by subsequent panel discussions with six panellists from Argentina, Australia, Qatar, Singapore, the United States of America and Zambia who all concurred that a food safety assessment provides a crucial starting point. All panellists emphasized the importance of the FAO/WHO publication as an invaluable source of technical information in this regard, particularly as it lists potential hazards that regulators can draw on. The publication also contains vital information on nomenclature and useful advice on ways to effectively communicate this topic to the public.The webinar included an interactive discussion session with the participants, during which basic food safety and regulatory questions were raised. FAO and WHO concluded the webinar with the offer to provide technical assistance to those countries in need of it.
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    Booklet
    Cell-based food and precision fermentation – Products, safety and the future role
    Stakeholder roundtable meeting report, Shanghai, China, 6 November 2023
    2024
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    As the global demand for proteins and specific nutrients grows, many people are looking into opportunities to expand the scope of diverse and sustainable sources of such nutrients. Food safety is one of the prominent key issues to ascertain before such products go into the market, and various competent authorities are working to identify and address potential food safety issues and their implications. After the first stakeholder meeting on cell-based food organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Government of Israel, many experts suggested that FAO maintain such dialogues to regularly update the knowledge of this fast-improving technology. This led to the stakeholder meeting organized by FAO jointly with the Government of China in November 2023, which considered precision fermentation besides cell-based food. The present report summarized the results of the meeting attended by a total of 55 participants in Shanghai, China on 6 November 2023. The meeting provided a snapshot of the state of development of these particular technologies and the industry in 2023. As an increasing number of countries are reviewing the regulatory applications, valid examples of how to assess product safety have become available. All participants recognized that open discussions between stakeholders and regulators are key when it comes to clarifying important aspects of food safety, and that supporting the relevant scientific innovations is vital for achieving the overall food security goals and sustainable food production for the future.
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    Booklet
    Cell-based food: its safety and its future role
    Stakeholder roundtable meeting report, Tel Aviv, Israel, 7 September 2022
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    Cell-based food production involves culturing cells isolated from animals to develop products such as meat, poultry, aquatic products, dairy and eggs. Currently, many companies around the world are developing a wide range of cell-based foods using a variety of different production methods. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Israel, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a stakeholder meeting to come up with a technical reference document on the food safety aspects of cell-based food. Developers and producers of cell-based foods were invited to present the different cell-based production processes used for chicken nuggets, hamburgers, beef steak and sushi salmon, and to present their input materials, such as scaffolds, cell lines and growth media, that in certain cases are consumed along with the cell-based food product. All the participants stated that food safety is of foremost importance, and many presenters explained their cell-based food production processes with relevant food safety considerations in flowcharts, which have been included in this report. The meeting provided an opportunity for stakeholders from different parts of the world to learn from one another, and to share their experiences and challenges. As a result, the presentations delivered in the meeting provided an overview of the 2022 status of the topic of cell-based food development and presented the potential complexities of conducting food safety hazard identifications for cell-based food.

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