FDA grants first safety approval for company selling lab-grown meat

USDA will oversee the processing and labeling of cell-cultured meat products.

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Can you imagine eating lab-grown chicken? This isn't a scene from a sci-fi movie, but a startup that developed this food from animal cell culture won key safety approval Wednesday from the Food and Drug Administration.

California-based company Upside Foods has been cleared by the FDA over the safety of its animal cell culture technologywhich can produce meat products without slaughtering any live animals.

The FDA's decision, a first for so-called cultured meats, means that lab-grown chicken is considered safe to eat, though further approvals are needed before the products can be sold in the US.

The FDA said in an update on Wednesday that it has evaluated Upside Foods' production process and cultured cell material and has "no further questions" about its safety. The decision has significant implications for sustainable food production and the booming cultured meat industry.

“This is a defining moment in food history,” Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of Upside Foods, said in a statement.

This milestone marks a big step towards a new era in meat productionand I'm delighted that American consumers will soon have the opportunity to eat delicious meat grown directly from animal cells."

Nevertheless, To sell its products to the public, Upside Foods still needs to get approval from both the FDA and the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. He said he's working to secure any remaining approvals before launch.

The cultured meats and meat alternatives industry has grown explosively in recent years, particularly as startups look to create more sustainable and climate-friendly ways to produce food.

Meats are “grown” from cells taken from an animal, usually through a biopsy, from a cell bank, or from a piece of fresh meat that has already been slaughtered as part of the food system. The cells are fed with a mixture of nutrients, such as amino acids, sugars, trace elements and vitamins, causing them to multiply and become finished meat products.

Upside Foods said its cell culture technology is designed to be "renewable indefinitely," meaning the production process will not rely on the slaughter of live animals.

The FDA said it is evaluating other types of foods made from cultured animal cells.

“Our goal is to support innovation in food technologies by always keeping the production of safe food as our priority,” the agency said in a statement. "Human foods made from cultured animal cells must meet the same stringent requirements, including safety requirements, as all other foods."

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