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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety clearance for lab-grown meat for the first time.
Upside Foods, a California-based company that makes meat from cultured chicken cells, will be able to start selling its products once its facilities have been inspected by the US Department of Agriculture.
The agency said it had reviewed the information submitted by Upside Foods and that it “had no further questions about the company’s safety conclusion at this time.”
“Advances in cell culture technology are enabling food developers to use animal cells obtained from livestock, poultry and seafood in food production, and these products are expected to be ready for the US market in the near future,” said Dr. Robert M. Califf, the FDA’s food and drug commissioner, 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 the safety of the food available to American consumers as our number one priority,” the statement added.
Founder of Upside Foods and CEO Uma Valeti reports this on Twitter that his farm-raised chicken was “one step closer to being on the table everywhere”.
“UPSIDE has received our ‘No Questions Letter’ from the FDA,” Valeti tweeted. “They have accepted our conclusion that our breeding chicken is safe to eat.”
He told CNN earlier this year that the process of making cultured meat “is similar to brewing beer, but instead of growing yeast or microbes, we grow animal cells.”
“These products aren’t vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based — they’re real meat, made without the animal.”
Singapore was the first country to allow the sale of cultured meat. It granted San Francisco startup Eat Just Inc. regulatory approval to sell its lab-raised chicken in Singapore.
Proponents hope 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, the majority of which comes from livestock farming.
“We are pleased with the FDA’s landmark announcement that, following a thorough review, UPSIDE Foods has become the first company in the world to receive a U.S. FDA green light for cultured chicken,” said David Kay, director of communications at Upside Foods , via email.
“On a large scale, cultured meat is expected to use significantly less water and land than conventionally produced meat.”
While technically not an approval, the FDA said a thorough pre-market consultation process had been completed. The approval only applies to foods made from cultured chicken cells by Upside, but the statement said the FDA “is ready to work with other companies developing foods for cultured animal cells.”