The United States opens a new era by approving the sale of lab-grown meat | Sciences


A Washington restaurant run by Spanish chef Jose Andres will soon include lab-grown chicken on its menu. The chef is an ally of Good Meat, one of two US companies that received final authorization from the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday to sell artificial chicken meat. With this, the United States opens an era of uncertain future in the field of food.

In the United States and many other countries, imitation or substitution of meat based on plant proteins and other ingredients has become commonplace, with products suitable for vegans and brands such as Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat, and many more. What is approved now is completely different. It is chicken meat without chicken, i.e. tissue grown in a laboratory from chicken cells, but without any animal for slaughter and without bones, organs, feathers or beak.

Cultured meats are raised in steel tanks filled with water, salt, and nutrients, using cells from a live animal, a fertilized egg, or a special bank of stored cells. The production process from cell cultures involves multiplying or multiplying the cells, differentiating them so that they acquire muscle characteristics, and harvesting or harvesting the cellular material for conventional processing as food.

The idea is to usher in a new era in meat production aiming to eliminate animal harm and slaughter and greatly reduce the environmental impact of grazing, farming forage and animal waste.

East Just Lab, Good Meat Group, Alameda (California).
East Just Lab, Good Meat Group, Alameda (California).
Associated Press/La Presse

The US health agency, the Food and Drug Administration, had already given the green light to the new product, but inspections and a final green light from the Department of Agriculture for marketing are still missing. Two California-based companies, Good Meat and Upside Foods, announced Wednesday that they have received them. In the case of Upside, lab-grown meat is produced in large sheets that are then molded into shapes such as chicken tenders and sausages. Good Meat sells cultured meat in Singapore, the first country to allow it, and turns chicken cell blocks into strips, nuggets, shredded meat and skewers.

Good Meat, the cultured meat division of food technology company Eat Just, in a statement celebrated the move it deems “critical” for the “burgeoning” meat and seafood sector and for the global food industry. “This historic clearance means that the company’s chicken, which is made directly from animal cells, can now be sold to American consumers,” he said.

In fact, Alameda-based Good Meat has already had multiple licenses for chicken meat achieved in 2020 and 2021 in Singapore, as it is naturally marketed through various channels. In January 2023, it obtained a license that the company considers key to paving the way for further expansion, lower manufacturing costs, and a more sustainable product. It is now receiving a license in the United States to set up its factory in Alameda, the city where it is headquartered. Its production partner, Joinn Biologics, has also been approved.

Upside Foods is the other company that has completed a pre-marketing regulatory review process for farmed chicken. “Since cultured chicken is developed directly from real chicken cells, the company undergoes rigorous inspections and food safety standards similar to those of conventionally produced poultry,” she explained in a statement.

Once regulatory approval is obtained, Upside Foods can begin commercial production. The company announced that it will debut a full-bodied chicken product that contains more than 99% of the cells of cultured chickens.

Eat Just Lab in Alameda, California.  The letters on the glass indicate the company's goal: to have the most consumed grown-raised meat in the world.
Eat Just Lab in Alameda, California. The letters on the glass indicate the company’s goal: to have the most consumed grown-raised meat in the world.
Jeff Chew (AP)

Berkeley-based Upside Foods became the first company to receive FDA clearance last November after an extensive review of its product and manufacturing process. Information provided by the FDA at the time indicated that there was no reason to expect that the production process would result in carrying or containing any adulterated material or microorganisms.

At this time, we have no doubts about Upside’s conclusion that the feed consists of or contains cultured chicken cell material resulting from the specified production process. […] The FDA report concluded that it is as safe as similar foods produced by other methods. The file provided by the company described in detail the production process.

“I am excited to share that cultured meat will now be available to consumers in the United States,” Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of Upside Foods, said in a statement Wednesday. “This approval will radically change the way meat gets to our table. It is a giant step towards a more sustainable future, preserving choice and life,” he added.

Upside also has an ally Cook. Following regulatory approval, it received its first order for farm-raised chicken from three-Michelin-star chef Dominique Crean. The company has announced the launch of the company’s farm-raised chicken in the United States in limited quantities through select restaurant partners, beginning with Chef Crenn’s Bar Crenn in San Francisco, where it launched a social media contest for consumers who want to try the lab’s chicken. .

Upside conducted an IPO in April 2022, raising $400 million in capital at a price the company valued at more than $1,000 million. Laboratory meat is expected to become a big business in the future. Today, it is much more expensive to manufacture than conventional meat, making it difficult to bring it to market, even more so than cultural resistance. At best, it will take years to commercialize cultured meat on a large scale. McKinsey, a consulting firm, estimates that the farmed meat market could reach $25 billion by 2030.

There are dozens of companies around the world researching and testing to manufacture farmed chicken, pork, lamb, fish and beef, although some of these meats are more difficult to replicate than chicken in a way that maintains texture and flavor. Among those companies are Meatable and Mosa Meat from the Netherlands, where the lab meat processing procedure was invented. After Singapore and the United States, regulators in Israel, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are considering approval, while the European Union, where cultured meat was invented, threatens to be left behind.

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