Culture vs. Cultivation: Italy Bans “Meatless Meat”

Culture vs. Cultivation: Italy Bans “Meatless Meat”

culture meat

Things are cooking – pardon the pun – in the cultivated meat space, and the nation of Italy has just turned up the heat! Preempting a safety assessment by the EU, which is predicted to go through, the Italian parliament has banned cultivated meat in the country, as well as the use of meat-related terms, like “steak,” to describe plant-based alternatives.

Cultivated meat is a cruelty-free animal product, in which regular cuts of meat are grown in a lab from cells harvested from still-living livestock. In handing down their ruling, Italy asserted that a ban would support Italian farmers, and protect the country’s renowned culinary heritage. Fines between €10,000 –  €60,000 will be levied per violation.

Naturally, folks are upset over Italy’s ban, the first in the world. Not least among them are developers of cultivated meat, like Netherlands-based Mosa Meat. They particularly take umbrage at the parliamentarians’ questioning of the quality of their results.

“Italy’s decision to reject cultivated meat sets it apart from other nations. Such products have been sold in Singapore since late 2020, and in June the US Department of Agriculture approved two companies – Upside Foods and Good Meat – to make and distribute cultivated meat, following initial safety approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration. These two firms are now selling their chicken products at restaurants in San Francisco and Washington DC, respectively. […]

In Romania, however, the Senate has voted to prohibit the sale of cultivated meat, and this measure awaits approval by the lower house of parliament. If enacted, it would mean fines of between €40,000 and €60,000 for violations.”

As someone who’s always enjoyed Italian food – and appreciated their curation of it – I can see where the concerned lawmakers are coming from. But, given the pressures on our environment exacted by traditional meat production, as well as the animal cruelty factor, I wonder if it might be time to forge a new tradition. The main selling point of cultivated meat is that it is indistinguishable from slaughtered meat. This makes Italy’s ban, in my eyes, purely philosophical. And I don’t know if our planet has enough time for this debate!