Those with allergies may finally indulge in some meaty food products without worrying about a possible reaction. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved genetically modified pigs that do not have any bodily component that can trigger an allergy.

The FDA, in a press announcement, revealed that the intentional genomic alteration (IGA) pigs, called GalSafe pigs, may be used either for human therapeutics or food. The GalSafe pigs do not have the alpha-gal sugar that is normally found on the surface of the cells of pigs. Those who have Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) are known to experience mild to severe allergic reactions to the alpha-gal sugar that is found in red meat, e.g. pork, lamb, and beef.

GalSafe pigs have the potential to provide a source for medical products which are not tainted with alpha-gal sugar. It can be a source for the blood-thinning drug heparin, which is free of detectable alpha-gal sugar.

The FDA evaluated how safe the IGA is for animals and people who eat meat derived from them. They concluded that the product is safe for consumption by the general population. They also ensured that there are no levels of alpha-gal sugar detected.

As for the environmental impact of the GalSafe pigs, the FDA ascertained that their impact is no greater than regular non-genetically modified pigs. There were no other animal safety concerns noted that would exceed what can be expected from commercial swine operations.

FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said that the approval of animal biotechnology for both food and biomedical purposes can be considered as a milestone for scientific innovation. He also said that as a part of their public health mission, the agency supports advancing innovative animal technology products that are regarded as safe for people and animals.

The FDA also noted that the IGA pigs have not yet been evaluated for implantation into human subjects. Those that will develop any human medical products must secure approval from the FDA before the products may be used in medicines for humans.

The developer of the genetically-modified GalSafe pigs indicated that they intend to sell the meat by mail order instead of in supermarkets.

FDA approves genetically-modified pig Photo: Pixabay