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Lab-grown Meat Approved in the U.S. for the First Time

Beef meat with spices
US Approves Lab-grown Meat for the First Time Credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer CC-BY 2.0 / Flickr.

The US Department of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lab-grown meat, giving the okay for products such as Upside Foods’ “cultivated chicken,” which they have indicated is safe to eat.

Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of the Berkeley, California-based company, said in a statement, “This is a watershed moment in the history of food, [and] U.S. consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that’s grown directly from animal cells.”

According to Upside Foods, cells from a single chicken allow for the cultivation of the same amount of poultry that now comes from hundreds of thousands of farmed birds.

The FDA finally authorized the commodity after it “evaluated the information submitted to the agency and has no further questions at this time about the firm’s safety conclusion.”

They also stated that after reviewing their data, they had no further concerns about the company’s conclusion that its product is safe for humans to consume.

As FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf and Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition stated, “The world is experiencing a food revolution and the [FDA] is committed to supporting innovation in the food supply.”

Lab-grown meat safe to eat though not yet approved for sale

Although the FDA found Upside Foods’ chicken unharmful, it has not yet been approved for sale and is still pending a full inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its safety before it hits the market.

The agency explained that “as this product comes closer to entering the U.S. market, we are closely coordinating with USDA-FSIS to ensure it is properly regulated and labeled.”

Valeti, who founded Upside Foods while working as a cardiologist, came up with the idea of cultivated meat in 2015 while working at the Mayo Clinic. He told National Public Radio that if growing human heart cells in a lab works, then scientists could also take cells from an animal with a needle biopsy and feed them nutrients to proliferate and produce meat.

The company stated that once the Food and Drug Administration approves the sale of its cultivated products, including a chicken fillet, Upside’s production facility in Emeryville, California will be able to supply more than fifty thousand pounds a year.

Cows in a field
Cows in a field. Credit: Kelly Sikkema, CC-Zero / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Addressing increasing demand for farmed meat

Rising awareness of the high greenhouse gas emissions of raising livestock has caused demand for alternatives to farmed meat to escalate.

During this year’s recently concluded COP27 climate conference in Egypt, cultivated chicken was served to attendees.

David Kay, Upside Foods’s director of communication said, “We are thrilled at [the] FDA’s announcement, [and] this historic step paves the way for our path to market.”

Scientists say roughly a third of all human-produced greenhouse gases stem from food production, especially cattle. Cultivating meat would therefore be one solution to the problem of methane emissions and thus help combat global warming.

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