The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the sale of lab-grown chicken in the country, marking a historic moment for the emerging food technology that aims to provide a more sustainable and ethical alternative to conventional meat production.
Two Bay Area firms, Upside Foods and Good Meat, have received the approval to sell their chicken products made from animal cells grown in steel tanks, rather than raised on farms and slaughtered in abattoirs. The approval follows a previous clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, which confirmed that their products are safe for consumption.
“This approval will fundamentally change how meat makes it to our table. It’s a giant step forward towards a more sustainable future – one that preserves choice and life,” said Dr. Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of Upside Foods, in a statement.
Josh Tetrick, CEO of both Good Meat and Eat Just, said in an email to CNN that it is exciting to bring the concept of “chicken without slaughter” to the United States, especially after two years of success in Singapore, where his company’s cell-based chicken was approved for sale in 2020.
Both Upside Foods and Good Meat plan to launch their products in exclusive restaurants first, and then expand to wider markets as they lower their costs and increase their capacity. They claim that their products taste just like traditional chicken, but with lower cholesterol, fat, and antibiotic residues. They also argue that their products reduce animal suffering and environmental impact of conventional meat production, which consumes large amounts of land, water, and energy, and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions.
Lab-grown meat, which is also referred to as cultured or cell-based meat, is a cutting-edge food technology that involves producing meat by cultivating animal cells, rather than relying on traditional livestock farming methods. The technology has been around for more than half a century, but growing sufficient flesh to make an edible product at a competitive price has been the major challenge.
Lab-grown meat faces significant challenges such as consumer acceptance, regulatory hurdles, and production scalability. Despite its numerous benefits, some consumers may be hesitant to embrace lab-grown meat due to concerns about its taste, texture, and perceived “unnaturalness.” Moreover, lab-grown meat still requires approval from various regulatory agencies around the world before it can be widely available.
“Now is the time to make sure that the industry develops in ways that don’t result in monopolies or the flattening of food culture,” wrote Hallam Stevens and Yvonne Ruperti in The Guardian.
Lab-grown meat probably won’t replace conventional meat any time soon. But it could carve out a sizable niche for itself in the meat industry, helping to reduce animal suffering and environmental devastation.
– Lab-Grown Chicken Revolution: Two Bay Area Firms Get First USDA Approval to Sell in the U.S., Hoodline, June 21, 2023
– Lab-grown meat is on the rise. It’s time to start asking tough questions, The Guardian, June 17, 2021
– Lab-Grown Meat: Prospects, Challenges – gHacks Tech News, gHacks, March 25, 2023
– Lab-grown chicken is finally here – Freethink, Freethink, July 3, 2021