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Breaking it Down: The Dos and Don’ts of Talking About Cell-cultured Seafood

July 28, 2021

Whether you’re a stakeholder, journalist, or future customer looking to expand your knowledge and palate, it’s easy to feel bogged down by the terminology surrounding cellular agriculture. Our industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, but it’s still very much a new frontier, and we understand that sifting through the noise can be a challenge. To lay down some groundwork, we decided to break down some of the nitty-gritty terms that best define (and do not define) the work we do at Finless Foods.

Let’s Start: The Don’ts 

Within the fast-growing space of alternative seafood, it’s easy to be misled by descriptions, references, and terms that don’t accurately represent our processes or our products, so let’s take a moment to cover some of these no-nos.

“Lab-grown,” “lab meat,” “fake meat,” and “sci-fi meat” are among the worst offenders. And here’s why. Firstly, labs are used for scientific experiments (not food production), and our cell-cultured tuna is not grown or produced in a lab. In fact, our cell-cultured product is produced in a well-maintained food facility similar to where your favorite cheeses and microbrews are produced. Additionally, the term “fake” has no relevance to our cell-cultured product, which is made from the actual cells of wild-caught bluefin tuna. Another common misnomer is the term “clean meat.” This is pretty misleading and also unfairly critical towards the conventional meat industry. All US food must be produced in clean, safe, and well-regulated environments, whether made of plants, animal meat, or cell-cultured meat. None of these terms apply to our plant-based tuna product either, which is an innovative blend of nine whole, plant-based ingredients cooked and seasoned to mimic the taste and texture of tuna.

The Dos

So what is “cellular agriculture,” exactly? It describes the method by which we create our delicious cell-cultured tuna, made from fish cells extracted directly from wild-caught tuna. 

Cellular agriculture,” “cell ag,” and “cell-cultured technology” are all terms often used interchangeably to refer to this incredible, groundbreaking process. Check out our post, Finless Foods founded on Promise of Cell-cultured Seafood to better understand the why behind our cell-cultured tuna. 

We not only use, but advocate for the term “cell-cultured,” because it accurately describes how our products are made, what our products actually are in comparison to other conventional seafood (e.g. differentiated from aquaculture or farm-raised products and wild-caught seafood), and isn’t critical or derogatory toward conventional seafood products. We don’t stand alone in this position but have aligned with the cell-cultured meat, poultry, and seafood industry, conventional seafood industry, and key groups like the Environmental Defense Fund to support ‘cell-cultured’ as the term that stands above the rest.

Why are these details important? As the alternative meat and seafood space continues to grow, it’s vital that we educate our stakeholders and future customers on how to accurately refer to the new, cell-cultured industry so it’s best positioned to make a significant impact in our food systems and lives. We want the public to be aware of the incredible potential of the cell-cultured movement, both for sustainability and food innovation, without misleading phrasing about the origin or derogatory language towards our traditional seafood counterparts. These terms play a significant role in shaping public perception, education, and excitement to support these groundbreaking options. 

As we work to propel our mission and tell our story, we know there are other terms, concepts, and new questions that will pop up in the future. We’ll always strive to be a resource to help you better understand the processes and benefits of cellular agriculture. So stay tuned! We’ll continue to publish pieces like this in the future to clarify, inform, and educate our current stakeholders, interested followers, and future consumers. We’ll also be posting educational, digestible information on our Instagram page, so give us a follow @finlessfoods. 

For even more info on our food portfolio and the Finless Foods story, check out our FAQs page!

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Overcoming Challenges and Celebrating Wins 

The third quarter marks another critical milestone for Finless Foods as we further expanded the R&D capabilities at our pilot facility, after wholly occupying the space in April this year. We now can grow our bluefin tuna cells at larger scales, quickly analyze their nutrient requirements, and produce our bluefin tuna sashimi prototypes with shorter iterations. Looking back on our 17-month journey, the construction of this pilot facility was not trivial, and we did it all during the COVID-19 pandemic.  [...]