In the last five months, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved two American producers of lab-grown meat, a product grown from animal cells for human consumption for the first time.
In 2022, the FDA announced that laboratory-grown chicken developed by Upside Food, is “safe to eat,” clearing the way for the California-based company that creates cell-cultured chickens to begin selling its products.
To manufacture its meat, Upside Foods harvests cells from live animals, chicken tissue, and uses the cells to grow meat in stainless-steel tanks known as bioreactors.
The agency issued a statement announcing it evaluated Upside Food’s production and cultured cell material and has “no further questions” about the safety of its cultivated chicken filet.
“The world is experiencing a food revolution,” stated FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. “Advancements in cell culture technology are enabling food developers to use animal cells obtained from livestock poultry, and seafood in the production of food with these products expected to be ready for the US market in the near future.”
“The FDA’s goal is to support innovation in food technologies while always maintaining as our first priority the safety of the foods available to US consumers,” he added.
Upside Foods founder and CEO Uma Valeti heralded the FDA’s approval.
Earlier this year, the second lab-grown chicken product was approved by FDA.
“GOOD Meat’s chicken is the second cultivated meat product to receive a “no-questions” letter from the FDA after California-brd UPSIDE Foods got the regulator’s green light for its cultivated chicken breast last November. The letter means the FDA accepts the company’s conclusion that its product is safe for humans to eat,” Reuters reported.
“We have no questions at this time regarding GOOD Meat’s conclusion that foods comprised of or containing cultured chicken cell material [are] as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods,” FDA said in a March 20 letter to the company.
Now, lab-grown chicken meat is getting closer to restaurant menus and store shelves.
Regulators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are now deciding how to label cultivated meat for public sale and inspect facilities that produce it. The guidelines are expected sometime this year — a final hurdle before the products can hit store shelves.
Americans were estimated to consume roughly 75 billion pounds of red meat and chicken last year, according to USDA data. That’s nearly 225 pounds per American.
“I think of our cultivated meat as the one that can fill the delta between how much meat we eat now and how much we’re going to have to produce for the next 30 years,” Valeti said.
Cultivated, or cultured-cell, meat is grown in steel bioreactors from animal stem cells that are fed a mixture of vitamins, fats, sugars and oxygen. The process results in real meat tissue without having to raise or slaughter an animal.
ABC News was granted an inside look at the nation’s first and largest cultivated chicken facility, run by UPSIDE Foods in an office park outside San Francisco.
“It takes two weeks to grow the equal to one chicken, a thousand chickens or 100,000 chickens,” said Valeti, who is a cardiologist by training. What limits production is infrastructure.
Read more here.