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Food Safety

Quality and Food Safety Assessments of Cell-Based Meat Tissue

New Harvest Research Fellow: Sam Peabody, PhD Student at Texas Tech University

Project Start Date: September 2019

Project Duration: Four years, full-time

Institutes: Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University

Supervisors:  Dr. Marcos X. Sanchez-Plata (Associate Professor in Global Food Security with the International Center for Food Industry Excellence (ICFIE) at Texas Tech University); Dr. Bradley Johnson (Gordon W. Davis Regent's Chair in Meat Science and Muscle Biology at Texas Tech University); Dr. Jerrad Legako (Assistant Professor in Meat and Muscle Analysis at Texas Tech University)


Project Abstract: 

In recent years, many cell-based muscle tissue startups have appeared and are working on technologies for developing commercially feasible protein products. Many of these companies have leaders who come from medical and biotechnology fields with limited knowledge in food safety and muscle quality. Several cell-based muscle tissue companies expect to have their products enter the market within the next 3-4 years with some making bolder claims to as little as 2 years. To date, few public studies on quality and safety of these products have been made. If a muscle-tissue product is expected to be available for human consumption, the food safety implications of the development process and the quality of the product during handling and preparation need to be considered. Moreover, the current policy of regulators in the United States, European Union and other nations is to have a food safety program that considers hazard controls instilled “from farm to fork”, including preventive programs such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). The central U.S. regulatory bodies of food safety, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have made it public that they intend to regulate cell-based muscle tissue products collectively. Since HACCP programs are required for meat and poultry products, and require time to develop, implement, and validate; cell-based startups are in need of food safety assessments, and potential hazard control methodologies during the feasibility stages of production. As production increases, these food safety and quality management programs are in need to be maintained to assure safe and consistent quality products for consumers.

Objectives: 

  • To model the fate of plausible foodborne pathogens within cell-based muscle tissue products
  • To establish microbial, chemical and sensory shelf-life limits of cell-based muscle products
  • To identify and establish good hygienic practices for industrial and commercial production of in vitro muscle tissue (IVMT)
  • To compare the composition of cell-based muscle tissue to muscle tissue of the original species