Cellular agriculture

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About cellular agriculture

Cellular agriculture is an emerging technology in the production of food usually derived from animals (meat, seafood, eggs, milk products) using cell culture methods instead of live animals. This can also be referred to as:

Various technologies, including molecular biology, synthetic biology, and tissue culture, are driving advancements in this field of food innovation. Some of these technologies are well-established in food production, while others are still in development.

Ingredients produced by cellular agriculture methods commonly include cultivated animal cells, such as muscle fibre, which is a recent area of innovation in food production. Their production generally involves selecting cells (for example, muscle cells) from a desired animal (for example, chicken) and growing them in controlled culture conditions to produce the desired tissue type. The resulting tissues are intended to be used (for example, baked, grilled, etc.) like any other food ingredient.

Some product developers have used cellular agriculture to describe:

We expect that some consumer food products will likely contain a combination of ingredients produced by conventional methods and cellular agriculture technology.

You can find an overview of scientific, safety and other considerations related to cellular agriculture in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' document Food safety aspects of cell-based food.

Safety assessments of cellular agriculture products

In Canada, foods and food ingredients that are considered novel under the Food and Drug Regulations require a pre-market safety assessment to show that they are safe before being sold. The majority of cellular agriculture products are likely to be novel in Canada, even if they are already approved somewhere else. Health Canada has already assessed some food ingredients produced from cellular agriculture methods. These food ingredients can be found in our list of completed safety assessments of novel foods. As Health Canada receives submissions for cell-cultivated meat products and completes the safety reviews, these will be presented on that list.

We will:

For more information, please consult the:

To submit a novel food notification, please use the online application form for pre-market submissions.

Health Canada encourages developers of cell-cultivated foods to request a pre-submission consultation with the Food Directorate during the early stages of their product development. These consultations are an opportunity to:

You may send requests for a pre-submission consultation to the Submission Management Information Unit at smiu-ugdi@hc-sc.gc.ca.

Products of cellular agriculture will follow generic rules on food hygiene and safety including:

Statutory and regulatory requirements beyond novel food safety assessment

We expect that consumer-ready products made using cellular agriculture ingredients may also include other ingredients that have specific regulatory requirements. Before manufacturers submit a pre-market notification to Health Canada, all ingredients must comply with the:

Depending on the intended end use of the ingredients used in making consumer-ready products, additional regulations may apply beyond pre-market food safety considerations. Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) conduct comprehensive pre-market safety assessments before cell-cultivated foods can be sold in Canada.

ECCC conducts ecological assessments to ensure these products don't pose risks to the environment. All new substances are subject to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), specifically the:

Please refer to the New Substances program for more information and potential obligations under these regulations.

The CFIA has several roles in food safety, for example:

Learn more about CFIA's role in ensuring food safety in Canada:

Labelling of products containing ingredients produced by cellular agriculture methods

Like for all foods, certain mandatory food labelling rules apply to products of cellular agriculture. This includes the general prohibitions against label information that is false and misleading as stated in Section 5 of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and Section 6 of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). Other requirements may also apply for cell-cultured foods, such as composition and common names that are set out in standards of identity. Regulated parties are responsible to comply with these requirements, and CFIA verifies compliance.

For general information on food labelling in Canada, please refer to:

For an overview of the Canadian legislative framework for labelling, please refer to:

For more information for industry, please refer to:

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