Aleph Farms make Europe’s first cultivated meat approval submission to Swiss Regulators

Israeli cultivated meat startup Aleph Farms today announced that it has submitted an application to Swiss regulators to sell its cultivated beef – marking the first-ever application to sell cultivated meat in Europe.

26 July 2023

Aleph Farms cultivated beef skewers pictured here could be on European plates if Europe's first cultivated meat submission is successful

Cultivated meat may soon reach European plates as Aleph Farms today became the first company to apply for cultivated meat regulatory approval in Europe, having presented a submission to Swiss regulators.

Seth Roberts, Policy Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “It’s fantastic to see Switzerland leading the way for cultivated meat in Europe. Once approved by regulators, Swiss consumers will be able to enjoy their favourite beef dishes, made in a way that could slash climate emissions and create space for more sustainable farming. Cultivated meat represents a huge opportunity for Switzerland to enhance its food security and create future-proof jobs.

“But it’s striking that Europe’s first-ever cultivated meat application has arrived in Switzerland rather than Brussels. With Italy trying to ban cultivated meat while countries like the Netherlands invest, Europe is sending mixed messages to companies who need certainty to be able to deliver on their potential. The EU must develop a coherent strategy to support the sustainable protein sector and ensure regulatory processes are clear, to reap the benefits of cultivated meat.” 

Aleph Farms’ submission comes just over a month after two cultivated chicken products were approved for sale following safety evaluations in the United States. Cultivated meat has been available in Singapore since December 2020.

Peer-reviewed research shows cultivated meat could cause up to 92% less greenhouse gas emissions, up to 94% less air pollution, than conventional beef, while needing use up to 66% less water and 90% less land. It can also be made without antibiotics, helping to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

Swiss and EU regulatory processes for cultivated meat approval

Much like in the European Union, the Swiss regulatory system includes a robust and evidence-based process for determining novel food safety. For cultivated meat to be sold in Switzerland, companies like Aleph Farms must apply for authorisation from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) by submitting a safety dossier. The process includes a safety assessment and extensive toxicological studies to demonstrate the safety of the food, and is expected to take at least 12 months. 

Before a cultivated meat product can be sold in EU member states, it must be approved by regulators in a process governed by the Novel Foods Regulation. The approval process will include a thorough and evidence-based assessment of the safety and nutritional value of cultivated meat and is estimated to take at least 18 months. GFI Europe is not aware of any applications for pre-market authorisation of cultivated meat having been made to the EU to date. 

The Swiss FSVO provides a template for application, which helps companies to navigate the process and makes it straightforward for applicants to know what is expected of them. This is an example of the type of resource that EFSA could develop to provide clarity and transparency for producers and support them in coming to market in the EU.