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Code of practice introduced for holding cultivated meat tastings

Particularly in the Netherlands, developments in the field of cultivated meat have succeeded each other rapidly over the past years. Significant investments are being made in the sector, and the Netherlands has played an important role in it since the beginning.

To ensure that this sector can continue to grow, the Code of Practice for Safely Conducting Tastings of Cultivated Foods Prior to EU Approval (the Code) was introduced in the Netherlands on 1 July 2023.[1] This code describes the process for companies to obtain approval to conduct cultivated meat tastings and in addition provides a code of conduct to be followed during these tastings to ensure the safety of participants.

The introduction of the Code represents an interesting development within the regulatory context of food law, which is regularly described or perceived by the industry as obstructive. The authorisation of novel foods is a lengthy process. This can create a certain barrier for companies to invest in innovation. With the adoption of this Code, the Netherlands opens the door to a formal “pre-novel food process” for the cultivated meat sector. Other Member States such as France and Germany have previously set up cultivated meat tastings, but the Netherlands is the first Member State where this is supported and regulated by the government.

The Code focuses specifically on cultivated meat tastings, but at the same time functions as a test, and it is conceivable that this initiative could potentially be extended to other categories of novel foods in the future. The system created by the Code thus constitutes a steppingstone, so to speak, for innovative solutions for the future. How this system will develop, and whether it might also be introduced in other Member States, or possibly even adopted by the European legislator, remains to be seen. In any case, this seems to be a step in the right direction.

In the following paragraphs the European legal framework of cultivated meat will be addressed in short, followed by the newly adopted Code.

European legal framework cultivated meat

Only novel foods that are authorised and included in the so-called Union list may be placed on the market in Europe.[2] At the moment, cultivated meat (and fish) is still an unauthorised novel food and is therefore not yet allowed to be marketed in the European Union (EU).

According to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 on novel foods, novel foods are all foods that were not used for human consumption to a significant degree within the Union before 15 May 1997 (including production techniques that cause significant changes in the composition or structure of the food in question, thereby affecting its nutritional value, method of metabolisation or undesirable substance content).[3] This includes foods derived from animal cell cultures or tissue cultures, as well as cell cultures or tissue cultures derived from plants, micro-organisms, fungi or algae.[4] The European Commission clearly articulated this in answering a parliamentary question by MEP Mara Bizzotto in 2018:

“The Commission is aware of the new technologies intended to produce laboratory-grown meat (‘cultured meat’) using cell cultures.

Article 3(2)(a)(vi) of Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283 on novel foods stipulates that food consisting of, isolated from, or produced from a cell culture or tissue culture from animals, plants, micro-organisms, fungi or algae is considered one of the novel food categories listed in the regulation.

Cultured meat may fall in this category. In such case, it would require a pre-market authorisation which would include a safety assessment performed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).”[5]

In principle, any food that qualifies as a novel food within the meaning of Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 may not be placed on the market in the European Union, unless it has been authorised and included in the Union list.[6] A novel food is included in the Union list only after the authorisation procedure has been completed. During this authorisation procedure, among other things, it is tested whether the food is safe and poses no risk to human health.[7] To obtain market authorisation, a safety dossier must be submitted to the European Commission, after which the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) investigates the safety of the product. [8]

As of yet, no applications have been submitted to the European Commission for the authorisation of cultivated meat.

Dutch Code of Practice

The newly adopted Code notes that, with the taste and texture perception of cultivated meat playing a major role in public perception and ultimate consumer acceptance of the product, there was a desire among cultivated meat producers to have their products tasted so that any adjustments could be made to the product prior to submission of a dossier to the European Commission.[9] In this context, the Code was designed to allow tasting of cultivated meat under controlled and safe conditions.

This was prompted by a motion put forward by de Groot and Valstar requesting the government to enter into consultations with Dutch cultivated meat producers to enable tasting sessions of cultivated meat.[10] This motion was adopted, after which the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport entered into discussions with two Dutch cultivated meat producers (Mosa Meat and Meatable) and the interest association for Dutch biotechnology companies (HollandBio), resulting in the Code for holding cultivated meat tastings.

The Code applies only to companies conducting activities in the Netherlands. To organise a tasting, a producer of cultivated meat must prepare an application. As part of this, the producer must submit information to substantiate the safety of the cultivated meat intended for tasting. The tastings will then be approved and evaluated by an independent Expert Committee.[11] This Expert Committee will be set up within the Cellular Agriculture Netherlands foundation (CAN).

According to the Code, companies approved to organise tastings are allowed to organise a maximum of 10 tastings per year, with a maximum of 30 people attending each tasting. If companies wish to organise additional tastings, a new application must be submitted.

The Code constitutes a pilot, which will in principle be in force for the period of one year with the possibility of extending this period by another year. The CAN will publish an annual report that will set out the applicants for tastings and the number of conducted tastings. The first tastings are expected to take place in autumn 2023.[12]


[1] Available at

[2] Art. 6(2) Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.

[3] Consideration 9 Regulation (EU) 2015/2283, jo. Article 3(2)(a) Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.

[4] Art. 3(2)(a)(vi) Regulation (EU) 2015/2283; consideration 8 Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.

[5] Reply European Parliamentary Question E-004200-18, 8 October 2018.

[6] Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2470 of 20 December 2017 establishing the Union list of novel foods in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods.

[7] Art. 7 Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.

[8] Art. 10 Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.

[9] Code of Practice for Safely Conducting Tastings of Cultivated Foods Prior to EU Approval, p. 1-2

[10] Parliamentary Papers II 2021/22, 27428, No 383.

[11] In full ‘Expert Committee for the safety evaluation of newly developed novel foods on the basis of animal cell culture’.

[12] Considerations on the decision regarding the letter to the House of Representatives dated 9 June 2023, DGA-SKI / 27929292.


2023, code of practice, eu, europe, life sciences, netherlands, regulatory