Zellbasiertes „Hot Dog“: Erstes Zulassungsverfahren von Laborfleisch in Europa

WWhile lab-grown meat is already being sold in small quantities in Singapore and the USA, there seems to be some progress on a European level as well. The subsidiary of German food manufacturer InFamily Foods, The Cultivated B, has initiated initial discussions with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This officially marks its entry into the pre-approval process for a hybrid sausage product made from plant-based ingredients and cultivated meat, as announced by the company on Thursday.

The product presented to the authority is intended to resemble a hot dog or Frankfurt sausage and was developed in close collaboration with the sister company The Family Butchers, which produces traditional sausage products such as Reinert Bärchen. The „meat“ developed is a hybrid sausage product made from vegan ingredients and cultivated pork-based meat. This was stated by the company upon request. According to their own statements, The Cultivated B is the world’s first biotech company in the process of EFSA certification for cell-based meat. Both cultivated meat and products from precision fermentation are said to be on the verge of a breakthrough in numerous countries, according to Wolfgang Kühnl, managing partner of InFamily Foods Holding.

So far, there has been little discussion about lab-grown meat in Europe. In late 2022, the German government confirmed that no applications for approval in Europe had been received thus far. As a result, the potential risks to consumers from lab-grown meat are not currently known, according to the German government. The evaluation process by the EFSA is considered to be particularly rigorous and time-consuming. The Cultivated B stated that they view this process as a „test of their worth,“ with a focus on quality and minimizing risks.

Noch viele Unbekannte

It is difficult to answer how long the process will take or when the hot dog could potentially be approved. „Making a reliable statement about this is difficult because the duration of the approval process plays a central role and there are no precedents in the case of cultured meat,“ the management said in response to the inquiry. From the previous Novel Food procedure, which laboratory-grown meat is subject to, a timeframe of nine months to several years is known for other products. Currently, they are in the „pre-submission phase“.

Eine der größten Herausforderungen für den Lebensmittelhersteller sei es, die enormen Produktionsmengen von Laborfleisch zu erreichen, die von der Lebensmittelindustrie verlangt werden und entsprechende Preispunkte zu finden.

The Cultivated B mit Sitz in Heidelberg hat vor circa einem Jahr seine erste Produktionsstätte für Bioreaktoren zur Herstellung von alternativen Proteinen für die Lebensmittel-, Pharma- und Kosmetikindustrie im kanadischen Burlington eröffnet. Durch die Einführung dieser dritten Sparte hat sich InFamily Foods vom Schinken- und Wurstproduzenten zum Technologieanbieter für Proteinprodukte entwickelt. Neben veganen Produkten sieht das Unternehmen auch in zellbasiertem Fleisch einen Zukunftsmarkt.

Weltgrößter Fleischkonzern JBS ebenfalls aktiv

Tönnies, the largest meat company in Germany, expressed reservations about cell-based meat in an interview with F.A.Z. On the other hand, JBS, the world’s largest meat company and significantly larger than Tönnies, has started construction on what they claim to be the „world’s largest facility for cultured beef protein“ in Spain, as announced by the company a few months ago.

Auch die Niederlande wollen das Thema offenbar vorantreiben: Dort wurden Verkostungen von Laborfleisch erlaubt. Das dort ansässige Unternehmen Mosa Meat hatte daraufhin erste Testessen angekündigt.