Business Bites: Italy bans lab-grown meat, US could soon follow

On this week’s plate: Italy prohibits lab-grown meat and U.S. contemplates doing the same; North American Olive Oil Association addresses high prices of olive oil with new study; Revol Snax unveils keto-friendly cookie bites with natural sweeteners; and more.

6 Min Read
lab-grown meat

At a Glance

  • Italy makes a bold move by banning lab-grown meat, and some U.S. states consider doing the same.
  • U.S. olive oil association conducts comprehensive study of more than 200 olive oil samples to address historic-high prices.
  • IFT releases report about food processing technologies that could improve accessibility while preserving nutritional content.

As countries around the world consider what to do with lab-grown or “cultivated” meat, legislators in Italy take a decisive first step by banning its production, and some U.S. states are looking to follow suit. Also, the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) looks to address the high price of olive oil by conducting a massive study—the largest ever of its kind—and Arla Food Ingredients partners with ENORM, Northern Europe’s largest insect farm, to upcycle the larvae of the black soldier fly. Read on for the details, plus more in this week’s column.

Italy becomes first country to ban lab-grown meat, on the chopping block in US

“Italy is the world’s first country safe from the social and economic risks of synthetic food,” Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida said to BBC after the historic vote, during which an altercation erupted between the farmers lobby and members of parliament. The law, however, may be largely ineffectual, as the European Food Safety Authority has yet to weigh in. In the United States, state legislators also ponder the fate of cultivated meat, with representatives in Texas, Nebraska and Florida introducing laws to provide clearer labeling or even ban such products outright.

“Without this legislation, untested, potentially unsafe and nearly unregulated laboratory produced meat could be made available in Florida,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson said in a statement. FDA, however, is currently coordinating with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to ensure lab-grown food products meet all applicable FDA and USDA-FSIS requirements for safety and clarity.

North American Olive Oil Association conducts largest-ever US olive oil study

The mission of NAOOA is to ensure consumers have confidence in authenticity and quality of olive oil they purchase. The nonprofit is comprised of 80 members—including Botticelli Foods, Colavita USA, Filippo Berio USA Ltd. and Pompeian Inc.—which represent more than half of the olive oil sold in the U.S. It recently announced plans to conduct the nation’s most comprehensive olive oil testing study, designed to test olive oil at an unparalleled scale and level of transparency, to address concerns surrounding the product’s historic-high prices. The study will include the largest-ever sample size (more than 200 proprietary and private label products), according to NAOOA, and will include products from both members and nonmembers. Samples will be purchased directly from supermarkets and retailers throughout the country by independent sampling agencies unaffiliated with the olive oil industry as an extra precaution. Testing will begin in early 2024 to coincide with the first major shipments of olive oil from the most recent growing season, the association said.

IFT examines how to “future-proof” food systems

Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) recently released a new white paper highlighting food processing technologies that could improve food accessibility while preserving nutritional content. The white paper, “Sustainable Production of Nutritious Foods Through Processing Technology,” claims “the time is now to future-proof the food system” and advocates for food processing technologies that can offer sustainable, scalable and affordable solutions to food and nutrition insecurity. In the paper, IFT also acknowledges the challenges facing the global food community in achieving this goal, such as misaligned or outdated regulations, a lack of optimized technology, unreliable consumer knowledge about food processing and more. Specific technologies discussed include microwave-assisted thermal sterilization and pasteurization, high-pressure processing, fermentation, and filtration and separation processing.

CPG brand Revol Snax, which crafts low-sugar and low-carb sweets, is on a mission to make sustainable snacks that are healthier and more nutritious, yet still delicious. With a strong commitment to quality and wellness, the company created sustainably sourced, plant-based snacks and nut butters. The keto-friendly cookie bites, sweetened with allulose and monk fruit, are made with clean ingredients. Produced in five flavors—Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Dark Chocolate and Almond, Double Dark Chocolate, Match Latte and Snickerdoodle—they incorporate different nut butter fillings wrapped inside a coconut almond cookie base. Each serving (2 bites) features less than 1 gram of sugar and 1 gram of net carbs. The company also developed two flavors of nut butter—Hazelnut Cacao and Vanilla Cookie Creme—which are also sweetened with allulose and monk fruit, and feature less than 1 gram of sugar per 2-tbsp serving.

Arla Foods Ingredients and ENORM look to upcycle insects

ENORM, Northern Europe’s largest insect farm, and Arla Food Ingredients announced a partnership to reduce food waste by repurposing delactosed permeate (DLP), a residual dairy stream created during lactose production. While DLP is typically used in biogas production, Arla and ENORM will use black soldier fly larvae, which can feed on DLP, as not only animal feed but also a sustainable source of healthy protein for humans. On Dec. 6, ENORM opened a new facility in Flemming, Denmark, which will begin producing more than 10,000 tons of insect meal daily in 2024, resulting in a 16% reduction in food waste.

“A commitment to circularity is at the heart of Arla Foods Ingredients’ business model,” Sønke Møller, senior sales developer at Arla, said in a press release. “This collaboration—which will see a by-stream previously classified as food waste transformed into something with potentially huge nutritional value—is a fantastic example of companies working together to make upcycling a reality.”

Plug and Play Topeka selects 24 startups for animal health, ag-tech accelerator program

 Global innovation platform Plug and Play Topeka creates industry-specific accelerator programs utilizing Silicon Valley technology and Kansas’ R&D, workforces and animal health companies. It recently selected 11 animal health startups and 13 ag-tech startups from more than 10 countries, including the U.S., for the fall 2023 cohort. Chosen by the four founding partners of the program—Cargill, Evergy, Bimini Pet Health and Hill’s Pet Nutrition—the startups represent a broad range of new innovations focused on areas such as soil health, alternative protein, sustainable packaging, automation and pet nutrition. Representatives from the 24 startups—5 Element Food Therapy, American Edge Grain, Amos Power, Bankbarn, Bene Meat Technologies, Bovi, Crop Intellect, DigiFarmz Smart Agriculture, Ferma Farms, Finres, Gaia Ag, Good Agriculture, Kirkwall, Moggie, Nanotica, Nimble Science, Nitronic, Offsetted, Ten Lives, TierraSpec, Transfur and Yarta—will participate in a 3-month-long accelerator program to connect them with resources and help grow their businesses. The program also aims to bring global innovation to the Midwest by facilitating opportunities for business development, mentorship and proof of concepts between these startups and the program’s founding partners.

This is the last Business Bites column of 2023. We will be taking a holiday break and will resume with our first column of the new year on Jan. 8, 2024. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

About the Author(s)

Heather Carter

Associate editor, Food & Beverage Insider

With over a decade of diverse professional experience under her belt, Heather has journeyed from the bustling world of local news reporting to the intricate realms of trade publishing. She has covered a wide array of topics, ranging from architecture and design to the food and beverage industry.

During her illustrious career, Heather also ventured into the realm of public relations, where she gleaned invaluable insights into the art of strategic communication and brand storytelling. Yet, her heart has always been anchored in the vibrant world of F&B, a passion deeply ingrained in her roots as the daughter of a seasoned chef. She has always held a profound appreciation for the role food plays in shaping cultures and connecting people.

With each story she tells, Heather seeks to illuminate the profound impact of food and beverage on people’s lives, celebrating its ability to evoke emotions, foster connections and weave the fabric of our shared human experience.

As Food & Beverage Insider's associate editor, she co-publishes a weekly news column, Business Bites, which showcases the latest industry news, highlighting key business updates, food and beverage innovation, industry events and more. Some of her other articles touch on important topics, such as ultra-processed foods, plant-based foods primed to change the food landscape, international flavors and ingredients, as well as better-for-you CPGs. She also frequently covers top trends at various industry events and has moderated first-of-their-kind education sessions at Informa events.

She can be reached at [email protected].

Scott Miller

Staff writer, Food & Beverage Insider

Scott Miller brings two decades of experience as a writer, editor, and communications specialist to Food & Beverage Insider. He’s done a little of everything, from walking a beat as a freelance journalist to taking the Big Red Pen to massive technical volumes. He even ran a professional brewing industry website for several years, leveling up content delivery during an era when everyone had a blog.

Since starting at Food & Beverage Insider, he’s written pieces on the price of greenwashing (and how to avoid it), debunked studies that served little to no purpose (other than upsetting the public) and explained the benefits of caffeine alternatives, along with various other stories on trends and events.

Scott is particularly interested in how science, technology and industry are converging to answer tomorrow’s big questions about food insecurity, climate change and more.

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