Cell-based salami deemed unsafe as Italy bans lab meat

Eric Barker, 31/03/2023

Lab-grown meat burger

CELL-based salami, prosciutto and scaloppine appear to be off the menu in Italian households, with the government voting to ban the production, marketing and importation of lab-grown meat products.

The conservative Government, led by the country’s first female prime minister Giorgia Meloni, introduced the bill to protect its local farmers – with the government approving it on Tuesday.

Violation of the country’s new laws can result in fines ranging from €10,000 to €60,000.

Agriculture minister Francesco Lollobrigida held a press conference following the result. In an automatic YouTube translation, he said the ban aimed to protect the health and culture of Italy’s people.

“We looked at the protection of our community from many points of view and we reasoned by addressing the issue of product quality,” Mr Lollobrigida said.

“This regulatory intervention protects the health, protects our production, protects our environment and protects a way of life of which we continue to be proud.

Francesco Lollobrigida

“It connects the production of food in the relationship between man, work, land and livestock farming.”

Mr Lollobrigida said allowing the development of a lab-grown meat industry also had several economic risks.

“Production inside what seems like factories that have stables or places where it is cultivated, it would produce greater unemployment,” he said.

“It risks and injustice that already exists in some societies, with reference to food. A society in-which the rich eat well and the poorest eat poor, while also suffering from it in-terms of health.”

Health minister Orazio Schillaci said there was on scientific evidence that lab-grown meat was safe and it was not worth risking the health of Italy’s people.

“Italy boasts an agri-food culture based on the Mediterranean diet, a diet that provides all the nutrients in a healthy and balanced way,”

“It also protects against the onset of many diseases.”

Other parts of Europe decreasing livestock numbers

Italy’s show of faith in the livestock industry, has coincided with other countries in the European Union putting in laws to decrease livestock numbers.

Last year, The Netherlands government announced that it was going to close about 3000 farms after a court ordered it do more to address a “nitrogen crisis”. Its farmers took to the streets in protest, lighting silage bags on fire and blocking supermarket distribution centres with tractors.

Protests have also been held in Belgium, where the government there has been planning similar nitrogen-related legislation to The Netherlands.

Cell-based meat yet to take off

Like the rest of the world, cell-based or lab grown meat has not taken off in Europe and the technology has not been developed for large-scale production.

However, it has a representative group called the Good Food Institute. Its head of policy Alice Ravenscroft has come out against Italy’s ban to other media outlets, including The Guardian.

“Italy is essentially a complete outlier here,” she said in The Guardian article.

“What we’re seeing across the rest of Europe is that other governments are eager to unlock some of the benefits of cultivated meat and are therefore being supportive.”

While GFI is keen to see the development of lab meat, Australian professor Paul Wood recently addressed the Queensland Rural Press Club to talk about the hard road ahead for the new industry and to tell livestock producers to not to sell the farm.


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