Alternative Proteins

US authority declares lab-grown meat safe

Chicken meat without dead chickens is the goal of Upside Foods in the USA. Now, for the first time, the US FDA has approved products made from cell-cultured chicken meat.
David Kay/Upside Foods
Chicken meat without dead chickens is the goal of Upside Foods in the USA. Now, for the first time, the US FDA has approved products made from cell-cultured chicken meat.

The US regulatory authority FDA has paved the way for the sale of cultured chicken meat. A historic decision and a signal for Europe. The use of cultured chicken meat can save up to 17 percent in greenhouse gas emissions compared to meat from traditional chicken farms, explains the Good Food Institute.

Researchers are working flat out on the processes that will make lab-grown meat ready for the market. Now, for the first time, a product made from cultured meat has been given the green light in the regulatory approval process in the USA. This was announced by the responsible US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency. So far, Singapore had been the only country wordlwide to approve chicken meat from cell cultures. There, the product is available to consumers in select restaurants. 

Launch planned for restaurants

The company, Upside Foods, has successfully completed the FDA's rigorous safety review of its cultured chicken, proving that it is as safe as farm-raised chicken. This should clear the way for the product to be offered in restaurants and retail stores across the country. In addition, with this product the company can now enter the standard food approval process.

Meat innovation: Indulgence without remorse

This process is similar to the process used in the introduction of conventional poultry products: manufacturers must demonstrate proof of safe production methods and further processing, which is completed with FDA approval. Seth Roberts, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, comments:"This is a milestone for cultured meat and sends a strong signal around the world that it will be an important part of our future diet." Cultivated meat, he said, is helping society meet the growing global demand for meat at a fraction of natural resources. "This decision sends a clear message to policy makers in Europe," Roberts continues. "They should invest in climate solutions like cultured meat - as they have done before with renewable energies - so that the benefits of cultured meat can be felt in Europe."

Cell-based: the same, just sourced differently

Cultured meat is basically the same meat we eat today. However, no animals are killed, but cells obtained from the living animal are multiplied, for example through fermentation. At the molecular level, cultured meat is identical to meat from animal husbandry, but requires only a fraction of the resources.
As recently as October, four award winners were selected to advance the process for cultured meat in Europe and make it more affordable. This "Cultivated Meat Innovation Challenge" was organized by the Good Food Institute Europe (GFI) and independent EU-funded body EIT Food. Projects from Germany, Great Britain, Portugal and Israel were selected from 25 project proposals from 14 countries. They will each receive €100,000 to implement their solution within the next three years. In Germany, the pharmaceutical company Leniobio secured the prize money.
Good Food Institute
The Good Food Institute (GFI) Europe is an international, fully donor-funded non-governmental organization. It advances alternative sources of protein to make the global food system more sustainable, secure and equitable. GFI works with science institutions, businesses and policy makers to promote plant-based and cultured meat, fish, eggs, dairy products so that they are tasty, affordable and available everywhere in Europe.