Cultivated chicken from Upside Foods and Good Meat will soon be available in the US following regulatory approval from the country’s Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Cell-based chicken products from both companies have been subject to a “historic two-agency regulatory process”, with both also vetted – and cleared – by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Good Meat, the cultivated-meat division of Californian food-technology company Eat Just, described the ruling as a “watershed moment for the burgeoning cultivated meat, poultry and seafood sector, and for the global food industry”.
Commercial production has already begun at the company, which signed a deal to supply its first restaurant through the José Andrés Group in Washington D.C.
Upside Foods CEO and founder Dr. Uma Valeti said: “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.”
Also headquartered in California, Upside Foods’ first product is described as a “whole-textured chicken product that is over 99% cultivated chicken cells”.
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It will be sold in “limited quantities through select restaurant partners”, the first of which is a Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco. In March, Upside Foods’ chief operating officer Amy Chen told Just Food the company would focus on the foodservice channel first, where she said consumers are more experimental.
Upside Foods is now seeking approval for its lab-grown sausages, nuggets, and dumplings.
The USDA and FDA joined forces in July 2019 to consult and inspect the production of cultivated meat.
Meanwhile, in Europe, industry advocates fear the continent is being left behind.
NGO The Good Food Institute Europe (GFI Europe), a global food-system think tank that promotes plant-based and cell-based meat, warned European companies “are beginning to look across the Atlantic to take their products to market”.
Alice Ravenscroft, GFI Europe head of policy, said: “This is the strongest evidence yet that Europe is falling behind as the rest of the world accelerates to deliver cultivated meat as part of a more sustainable food system… The EU must step up its investment in the sector and ensure regulatory processes are robust and transparent, or risk missing out on this crucial climate solution and economic opportunity.”
In March, Italy banned cell-based food to ‘protect the country’s food traditions’.
However, Spain, the UK and the Netherlands have all invested in sustainable-protein research over the past year.
Singapore has also cleared cell-based meat products for commercial sale.
Good Meat launched in Singapore in 2020 with its chicken product and this year received approval from the local regulator for its “serum-free media”.