‘Meat’ the end: synthetic food faces ban in Italy to protect culinary heritage

Austrian nutritional scientist Hanni Rützler tastes the world’s first lab-grown hamburger back in 2013. Photo credit: World Economic Forum / Wikimedia Commons

LAB-GROWN meat has been a suggestion for many years now, but Italian officials say that meat grown in laboratories and other synthetic foods will not be allowed in their country. Members of the Italian parliament proposed a bill on Wednesday, March 29 to prohibit synthetic foods being produced or sold.

The proposed legislation would impose fines of up to €60,000 for violations of the ban. The move by the right-wing Italian government has been designed to protect the country’s rich food heritage as well as and promote consumer health.

Francesco Lollobrigida, head of the rebranded Ministry for Agriculture and Food ‘Sovereignty’, spoke of the importance of Italy’s culinary traditions while advocating for the bill to pass. The country’s farmers’ lobby also supports the bill, while some animal welfare groups have criticised the decision.

In other parts of the world, synthetic food is becoming closer. Last year, Singapore gave regulatory approval for lab-grown chicken meat to be used in nuggets, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared cell-cultured chicken for human consumption. However, the European Food Safety Authority has not yet received any applications.