Lab-grown meat is OK for human consumption, FDA says

The process is described as similar to brewing beer, but instead of growing yeast or microbes, they grow animal cells

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Friday, November 18, 2022
Would you eat chicken meat grown in a lab?
But does it really taste like chicken?

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Would you eat chicken meat grown in a laboratory?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is giving a California company the green light to give it a shot for the first time.

Berkeley-based Upside Foods will be able to start selling its product once its facilities have been inspected by the Department of Agriculture.

The company says it takes cells from a single chicken to grow a cell line that produces enough meat for years, if not decades. The process is described as similar to brewing beer, but instead of growing yeast or microbes, they grow animal cells.

It pitches the concept as a more humane way to provide animal proteins, and one that is also better for the environment.

The FDA says it accepts the company's data on the safety of its product.

"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 U.S. market in the near future," Dr. Robert M. Califf, the FDA's commissioner of food and drugs and Susan T. Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), said in a statement.

"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 U.S. consumers," the statement added.

So far, Upside Foods is the only company given FDA clearance for a cultured-chicken product.

Upside Foods founder and CEO Uma Valeti said on Twitter that its cultivated chicken "was one step closer to being on tables everywhere."

Singapore was the first country to allow the sale of cultured meat. It granted San Francisco start-up Eat Just Inc. regulatory approval in 2020 to sell its laboratory-grown chicken in Singapore.

Advocates hope that cultured meat will reduce the need to slaughter animals for food and help with the climate crisis. The food system is responsible for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, most of which are from animal agriculture.

"We are thrilled at FDA's historic announcement that, after a rigorous evaluation, UPSIDE Foods has become the first company in the world to receive the US FDA greenlight for cultivated chicken," David Kay, director of communications at Upside Foods, said via email.

"At scale, cultivated meat is projected to use substantially less water and land than conventionally-produced meat."

Although not technically an approval, the FDA said that a thorough pre-market consultation process had been completed. The clearance only applies to food made from cultured chicken cells by Upside, but the statement said the FDA "is ready to work with additional firms developing cultured animal cell food."

CNN contributed to this post.