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  • Writer's pictureSian Yates

US regulator approves first sales of cell-based meat

Upside Foods and Good Meat have received final approval from the US Department of Agriculture to sell their cell-based meat products in the country.


Following the approvals, the US will become the second country after Singapore to allow the sale of cell-based meat.


Both companies have now become the first in the US to complete the FDA’s pre-market multi-step safety evaluation, meaning their production facilities satisfy regulatory standards, and their products can now be sold in the country.


"It is a dream come true," said Uma Valeti, CEO of Upside, in an interview. "It marks a new era."


Upside Foods and Good Meat both make cell-based chicken products. The companies are aiming to serve their products to high-end restaurants before scaling production to retail and grocery channels.


Upside Foods’ chicken will initially be available at Bar Cenn in San Francisco; while Good Meat will sell its first products to the José Andrés Group.


An extract timeline for the products is yet to be confirmed, though some have reported that the cell-based chicken could be available in restaurants in a matter of weeks.


According to Reuters, Upside will soon announce the location of a new US production facility that is 10-20 times larger than its existing plant in Emeryville, California.


Earlier this month, the USDA issued label approval to both companies – and the FDA issued its approvals to Upside in November 2022 and Good Meat in March 2023.




Is Europe falling behind?


The sale approvals will enable consumers to eat real chicken made without harm to animals or the environment. This new way of producing meat could also reduce climate impact by up to 92%, compared with traditional farming methods.


However, the Good Food Insititute (GFI) – an NGO working to accelerate sustainable protein production, including cell-based meat – has warned that this latest news proves that Europe is “falling behind”.


GFI says that European governments must “invest and make regulatory process transparent to release the benefits”. GFI encourages policymakers to act to make sure the environmental, public health and economic benefits of this food are felt in the region.


Bruce Friedrich, president of GFI, said: “[This] historic announcement — two American companies earning regulatory approval to bring cultivated meat to US consumers — marks a pivotal moment in food and agriculture. Consumers are now one giant step closer to enjoying the meat they love without compromise."


“Global demand for meat is projected to double by 2050. Breakthroughs like cultivated meat enable the world to diversify protein production while slashing emissions, increasing food security, reducing risks to public health, and freeing up lands and waters for restoration and recovery.”


He continued: “Given the stakes, a transition toward cultivated meat and other alternative proteins is as essential as the global transition to renewable energy. And just like renewable energy, massive public investment is key to ensuring these new sustainable foods can scale, create future-focused jobs, and benefit everyone.”


Alice Ravenscroft, head of policy at the GFI Europe, commented: “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.


“American consumers will soon be able to taste real chicken made without farming animals – so European companies are beginning to look across the Atlantic to take their products to market.”


She added: “Cultivated meat has the potential to slash emissions, boost our food security and expand consumer choice. 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.”



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