The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have agreed on a framework to regulate the controversial new product called laboratory grown meat or lab meat.

This deal takes lab meat one step closer to being approved for commercial sale in the United States. Some lab meat producers expect this approval within the year, but some experts warn this process might take years.

Lab meat are food products cultured from animal cells. Also called cultured meat, cell-cultured food products and synthetic meat, lab meat is a form of cellular agriculture produced by the in vitro cultivation of animal cells.

The concept for lab meat was popularized by Jason Matheny in the early 2000s. Matheny co-authored a seminal paper on cultured meat production. He also established New Harvest, the world's first non-profit organization dedicated to supporting in vitro meat research.

In a "formal agreement," the USDA and FDA said they will work together on regulations, which they will divide among each other. The FDA will be responsible for cell collection, cell banks and cell growth and differentiation.

The FDA will also have to approve both the process for making the cell-based product and the finished product itself. Once the FDA approves it, the USDA will oversee the production, labeling and day-to-day operations.

"We recognize that our stakeholders want clarity on how we will move forward with a regulatory regime to ensure the safety and proper labeling of these cell-cultured human food products while continuing to encourage innovation," said Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for the FDA's food policy and response.

USDA and the FDA have yet to approve the commercial sale of any lab-grown meat. It’s also unclear when it might do this.

What is clear is approvals will be granted on a case-by-case basis, with companies bringing their lab meat products to the FDA for review.

One of the biggest questions hindering the approval of lab meat for commercial sale is the raging debate as to what this product really is (Is it meat?), and what the correct name for this lab-grown product should be.

Cell-based meat companies, owever, are forging ahead with preparing their products to his grocery shelves.

Just, a California startup, is developing lab-grown chicken nuggets. It commended the USDA and FDA for their commitment to creating a regulatory framework for cultured meat.

"We hope to make our first sale this year," said Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Just. "We are creating real meat in our factory that doesn't require the capture or slaughter of animals."

Another California firm, Memphis Meats, is working on another cell-based product. Lab meat companies are to be found in Spain, Israel, and the Netherlands.