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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

South Korea is accepting applications for the regulatory approval of cell-based meat

South Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) announced yesterday (22 February) that it is now accepting applications for regulatory approval of cell-based meat.

The MFDS officially published the ‘Standards for Recognition of Temporary Standards and Specifications for Food,’ in a bid to “revitalise the food industry”.

The MFDS has revised its framework and clarified the procedure for recognising food ingredients made from cell and microbial culture technology. This means that cell-based start-ups, which could previously only use these ingredients for R&D purposes, can now file dossiers to be allowed to sell these products in the country.

So far, only Singapore, the US and Israel have approved the sale of cell-based meat.

While no companies working in the cell-based meat space have applied for approval yet, it is expected that a number of start-ups are likely to do so within the next few weeks, with the entire process set to take 270 working days at most.

Sam Lawrence, the Good Food Institute's VP of policy for Asia, told The Cell Base:

"This week's announcement of a tangible path to market for cultivated meat companies is a welcome recognition of the important role that future foods will play as South Korea seeks to build a more secure and sustainable protein supply. So far, the government has released an interim framework, which we expect to continue to develop and evolve over time."

He continued: "GFI’s scientists and policy experts have offered our input to regulators during the consultation processes, and will continue to provide feedback to ensure the framework is effective and incorporates global best practices. The agency is inviting companies to submit applications during this interim period, which we take as a positive sign that regulators are keen to get the local sector moving."

Dossiers submitted to the MFDS need to include safety verification data, including the name of the raw material, the origin of the cell, the manufacturing process and international recognition and usage history.

If the cells are derived from livestock, the application needs to provide information about the donor, such as country of origin, gender, age and slaughter inspection certificate. For marine sources, data confirming the source of the donor must be submitted.

The filing also requires companies to present information about the human safety impact of the raw material, including digestibility, negative health reactions, allergy and toxin data, and a confirmation of the genetic stability between the raw material and final ingredient.

The approval process will cost companies KRW 45 million (approx. $34,860). In contrast, some countries do not charge for novel food applications – Singapore and Israel, for example, have no fees attached to the process.

The development will be positive news for South Korea’s cell-based meat companies, including #TissenBioFarm, #SimplePlanet, Space F, #SeaWith, #CellMEAT and #Cellqua, among others.

It will also interest Korean noodle giant #Nongshim, which has invested $7.4 million in food-tech VC funding with a focus on cell-based meat, and #CJCheilJedang, which has teamed up with #KCell Biosciences to build a cell culture facility in Busan, South Korea.

Additionally, last week, scientists at Yonsei University showcased a hybrid rice variety with cell-based beef and cow fat cells as a proof of concept.

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