Monday, March 4, 2024

Italian government bans cultivated meat

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New law also restricts the way plant-based food can label itself.
Big raw red meat chunks on wooden plate with label saying ‘cultured meat’, concept for artificial meat production
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Italian lawmakers put the last nail in the coffin of lab-grown meat after the lower house of parliament approved a bill banning the marketing and production of cultivated meat.

Media reports said only a quarter of the upper house senate voted against the bill, with the remaining voters in favour.

The bill also restricts how plant-based food can be labelled.

It will in future be illegal to use traditional meat terms, such as “steak” or “salami” to market plant-based meats.

When the bill was tabled in March, Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida said Italy’s agri-food heritage needed to be protected.

The bill means no food or animal feed grown in a laboratory from animal cell cultures or tissue is allowed.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her right-wing party renamed the department of agriculture to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty.

Media reports cited fines ranging from €60,000 to €150,000 ($110,000-$270,000) for factories that breached the law.

There were concerns that the bill would be in opposition to European Union regulations, where there are already bids to approve the production and sale of cultivated meat.

Lollobrigida said he did not believe the EU would give approval to novel foods such as cultivated meat.

Public Affairs Consultant at the Good Food Institute Europe Francesca Gallelli said in a press release the bill not only deprives consumers of choice but also isolates Italy from investment and job creation opportunities in the industry. 

Good Food Institute Europe aims to transform the meat industry by advocating for plant-based and cultivated meat companies.

“This decision holds particular significance given Italy’s self-sufficiency rate for beef of 42.5%. As a substantial importer of meat from both European and non-European countries, supporting the domestic production of cultivated meat could play a crucial role in bridging this gap,” she said.

Making the use of “everyday names” like salami illegal directly affects Italian companies that make plant-based meat, Gallelli said.

“Industry research indicates Italy as the third-largest European market for plant-based products, with sales surging 21% to exceed €600 million between 2020 and 2022,” she said.

Tensions were high outside parliament as farmer groups who supported the bill clashed with groups opposing it.

The groups opposing the bill said cultivated meat has a lower carbon footprint than meat from livestock and is important in the fight against climate change.

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