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Consumer education on the food safety of cultivated meat

Consumer education on the food safety of cultivated meat can positively impact consumer acceptance when sufficient information is provided. Additional research and efforts to increase transparent science communication on the food safety benefits of cultivated meat are needed.

Production platform
  • Cultivated icon Cultivated
  • Fermentation icon Fermentation
Solution category
  • Ecosystem
Value chain segment
  • Demand Generation
  • End Products
Relevant actor
  • Industry
  • Academics
  • GFI
  • NGO’s
  • Startups

Current challenge

Public confidence in food safety is essential for existing and novel foods. Consumers currently perceive the food safety of plant-based products to be considerably higher than that of cultivated meat. Cultivated meat food safety is viewed as a potential benefit but also a significant concern for consumers. Concerns may stem from fears of unnaturalness and public unfamiliarity with production and planned regulatory approval and oversight processes. Additional food safety research for cultivated meat is needed to enable direct comparisons between conventional and cultivated meat safety. Surveys conducted in certain countries have identified food safety as a primary determinant of cultivated meat acceptance (Gomez-Luciano et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2020; Dempsey and Bryant, 2020).

Proposed solution

Information surrounding cultivated meat can provide meaningful context and substantially impact consumer acceptance. Yet, food safety is not as commonly presented as a potential benefit of cultivated meat compared to environmental and animal welfare improvements. Efforts to increase consumer education and awareness of the personal benefits of cultivated meat, such as improvements in food safety and public health, could increase consumer acceptance. Additional rigorous food safety studies, such as that underway by New Harvest fellow Dr. Sam Peabody could enhance public knowledge. Quality assurance and food safety data can support companies’ marketing strategies and could be particularly well received if cultivated meat products are labeled as safe by governing agencies like the FDA and USDA. Public service announcements on social media, websites, and TV ads—backed up by unbiased food safety labels on cultivated meat packaging—could attract a wide range of consumers, but further marketing research is needed to determine the most effective communication mediums for cultivated meat safety.

Anticipated impact

Increased food safety marketing could expand upon the safety awareness of cultivated meat that has been recognized by different stakeholders like the FDA, USDA, FAO, UN, and promoted by companies, academia (Ong et al., 2021), nonprofits (New Harvest, GFI), and student interest groups (CellAg Safety Squad). Since transparency is vital for consumer trust in food safety, more information about cultivated meat’s anticipated food safety benefits and risks is needed. Effective communication about the food safety of cultivated meat is essential for consumer acceptance.

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Meet the author

Mcnamara eileen

Eileen McNamara

GFI RESEARCH FELLOW

From: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

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