PRAGUE — Bene Meat Technologies (BMT) recently penned an open letter to the European commission on cell-cultured meat bans in Italy.

In November 2023, the Italian Chamber of Deputies voted to pass a law that bans the marketing and production of cell-cultured (cultivated) meat in the country. The ban also applies to foodstuffs and feed and includes significant fines for companies that work with cultivated meats. The act was approved in December, and now a similar ban is reportedly making its way to France.

Founded in 2020, BMT aims to help pet food manufacturers with their sustainability goals through its cultivated meat products. The company originally began with a goal for application in human food, but soon saw a large opportunity for the pet food space. BMT’s meat is made from cells that are non-violently removed from a living animal, and are then grown in laboratory bioreactors.

Recently, BMT registered its cultivated meat with the European Feed Materials Register, allowing it to produce and sell its cultivated meat products to the European pet food industry.

According to the letter, which is signed by Roman Kříž, managing director of BMT, cultivated meat products have numerous, scientific health, environmental and ethical benefits.

“We are aware that innovative steps can bring with them an initial mistrust of something new, however, such mistrust should never result in modern society trying to ban innovation without factual and scientifically based argumentation, which we are currently witnessing in the case of Italy,” Kříž wrote. “…We therefore consider the act adopted by the Italian Parliament to be discriminatory and unsupported by scientific knowledge, violating the principle of the common market, and bypassing the standard mechanisms for assessing food safety in the European Union, which goes against the interests of the European Union.”

According to the letter, Italy’s ban is also discriminatory toward consumers who prefer cultured food and feed and consume such products for their nutritional, ethical and environmental benefits. Additionally, such a ban that aims to protect meat producers against meat alternatives (like plant-based ones) is against the principle of the common market and competition, according to the letter.

“We would therefore like to ask you, within the competencies entrusted to you, to properly assess the law from Italy, as an EU member state, from the point of view of justification and compatibility with the principle of the common market and, in general, its compliance with the EU law,” Kříž  concluded. “Our company is convinced that there are no substantive reasons for Italy’s action, and is ready to provide cooperation in the assessment of professional questions related to the assessment of the safety of cultured products, both from the point of view of their consumption, and from the point of view of possible environmental impacts.”

Across the pond in the United States, cultivated meat is generally permitted for use in human food. However, some states have begun to impose various regulations, from specific product labeling to all-out bans. For example, legislators in Arizona, Florida and Iowa were the most recent to introduce regulations on these products.

Read more global pet food and treat news from outside North America.