The environmentally friendly meat alternative will soon reach US consumers as the US government cleared the way in a ‘groundbreaking’ move. Lab-grown meat is more efficient and considered a more sustainable option that doesn’t involve animal slaughtering.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the way for Americans to consume cultured meat, deeming the product safe for human consumption. Lab-grown meat companies welcomed the decision, which marks a new chapter in the emerging food sector.
The innovative process of creating lab-grown meat means that natural animal produce could almost be entirely removed from the food system in a ‘post-animal bio-economy’. Lab-grown meat is created by extracting and growing stem cells on a biodegradable cell scaffold in culturing media to encourage muscle growth. Pieces of ‘meat’ are then cultivated from the solution and put together with fats and colouring to produce a consumable piece of ‘meat’ that typically resembles a beef steak, chicken breast or piece of shrimp.
California-based Upside Foods received the green light for its cell-based chicken, becoming the first US company to have its product approved. The production involved taking living cells from chickens and growing them in a controlled laboratory to produce real meat.
“These products are not vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based,” Upside Foods founder and CEO Uma Valeti clarifies. “They are real meat, made without the animal.”
Valeti described the FDA announcement as “a watershed moment in the history of food” and a “milestone,” adding that he is “thrilled that US consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that’s grown directly from animal cells.”
I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. UPSIDE has received our “No Questions Letter” from the FDA. They’ve accepted our conclusion that our cultivated chicken is safe to eat, meaning UPSIDE is one step closer to being on tables everywhere. #cultivatedmeat pic.twitter.com/tk4DIF2NSa
— Uma Valeti, MD (@UmaValeti) November 16, 2022
Lab-grown meat companies – including Upside Foods – have raised 208% more funding so far this year than in 2020, reaching nearly US$700 million, Crunchbase found.
The lab-grown meat industry is still in its infancy and has so far only been approved for sale in Singapore – the first country to do so until now. The US decision is expected to completely revolutionise the sector and increase investments in lab-grown meat companies, allowing the expansion of a new food market deemed more efficient and sustainable than traditional livestock farming.