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    UK receives first application to sell cultivated meat

    Aleph Cuts cultivated beef steaks (Photo: Aleph Farms)

    Israeli cultivated meat startup Aleph Farms has submitted an application to British regulators to sell its cultivated beef, marking the first-ever application to sell cultivated meat in the UK.

    The development follows a similar application for approval in Switzerland by the startup, and comes just over a month after two cultivated chicken products were approved for sale following safety evaluations in the US.

    Confirming a Bloomberg report on X, formerly known as Twitter, Aleph Farms said: “We are thrilled to share we have recently submitted a dossier to the @foodgov. Approval of our submission will allow us to launch Aleph Cuts, the world’s first cultivated beef steaks, in the UK.”

    After Brexit, the UK assimilated the EU’s novel foods regulatory framework into UK law. This means that, before a cultivated meat product can be sold in the UK, it must be approved by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The approval process will include a thorough and evidence-based assessment of the safety and nutritional value of cultivated meat and is estimated to take at least 18 months.

    Responding to the announcement, Seth Roberts, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “It’s great news that the UK has received its first application to sell cultivated meat. Once approved by regulators, British consumers will be able to enjoy their favourite beef dishes, made in a way that could slash climate emissions and create space for more sustainable farming. Cultivated meat represents a huge opportunity for the UK to enhance its food security and create future-proof green jobs.”

    Roberts added that the UK should stay on track with its planned reforms to the novel foods regulatory framework, noting that several British cultivated meat companies, who are making great progress, are considering launching their products overseas.

    “The Food Standards Authority should accelerate constructive conversations with industry, scientific experts and consumer groups to inform a trusted, innovative framework for sustainable proteins that enables them to deliver on their climate benefits,” he said.

    The UK government has recognised that changes to the existing novel foods authorisation process could help bring foods with climate-mitigation potential, like cultivated meat, to market faster. Last month, the FSA published independent recommendations for how these reforms could be implemented.

    Peer-reviewed research shows cultivated meat could cut cause up to 92 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions and up to 94 per cent less air pollution, and use up to 66 per cent less water and 90 per cent less land than conventional beef. It can also be made without antibiotics, helping to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

    Cultivated meat has been available in Singapore since December 2020. Tomorrow also marks the tenth anniversary of the first-ever cultivated beef burger being presented in London by Dutch scientist Dr Mark Post.

    Aleph Farms has earlier said that it plans to launch Aleph Cuts in Singapore and Israel in limited quantities and offer exclusive tasting experiences curated with select partners, pending regulatory approvals. Aleph’s regulatory team is working in similar fashion with regulatory authorities in several markets around the world in order to ensure compliance with respective safety requirements.

    The submission in Switzerland is part of Aleph’s collaboration with Migros, the country’s largest food enterprise, which first invested in the company in 2019, to help accelerate scale-up, go-to-market activities and commercialisation of Aleph Cuts worldwide.

    As part of their agreement, the two companies will continue to develop a go-to-market strategy that involves distribution and commercialisation of Aleph Cuts through fine dining food service channels in Switzerland.

    Cultivated meat involves first harvesting cells from a living animal or a fertilised egg, to establish a cell bank that can be kept for decades in deep freeze. They are then cultivated in steel tanks where they are fed nutrients similar to what animals would eat.

    After several weeks, the result product is ‘harvested’ from the tank and molded into shapes, such as chicken filet or satay.

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