U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, has today sent a letter to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an examination of the regulatory framework surrounding cell-cultured foods.

Cell-cultured foods, also known as laboratory-grown meat, are food products derived from laboratory-grown cells rather than traditional livestock.

“Recent innovations in cell-cultured foods have caught the attention of producers, marketers, and venture capitalists alike. Over the past few years, some of the largest food companies in the United States have started to invest in cell-cultured technologies,” DeLauro wrote in the letter dated March 28. “While not yet commercially available, the potential introduction of this new type of product into the nation’s food supply and economy raises many important questions.”

“To date, it remains unclear exactly how cell-cultured food products should be regulated,” continued DeLauro. “More information is needed for Congress to address this emerging sector in the United States and to ensure it is properly overseen by the relevant executive agencies once these products are commercially available.”

DeLauro serves as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and is a senior Democrat on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

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Other efforts from DeLauro affecting meat and poultry industries

DeLauro, who has been a member of Congress since 1991, has a long history of pushing for changes in the livestock and poultry industries.

In 2016, she urged the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to increase oversight at poultry plants in hopes of decreasing injuries. The following year, she took the lead in an effort to challenge a proposed increase in line speeds at poultry plants, stating that the increase, advocated by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, would be bad for plant worker safety.

DeLauro, along with Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, in 2014 introduced the Pathogens Reduction and Testing Reform Act, which would give the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) more authority to recall meat, poultry and eggs that could be contaminated with pathogens that could cause illness or death.

Slaughter passed away on March 16. She was still in office at the time.