Lab-grown meat is one step closer to your dinner table. Regulators with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave the green light for two California companies to sell chicken made from animal cells to U.S. restaurants.
The USDA approved lab-grown meat made by Upside Foods and GOOD Meat, two of over 150 companies worldwide creating meat products using animal cell culture technology.
The FDA approved Upside Foods’ lab-grown meat in 2022; and in 2023, the USDA followed suit.
In November 2022, Upside Foods’ lab-grown chicken was the first in the U.S. to receive Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for human consumption. GOOD Meat is already selling its cultivated chicken in Singapore, AP News reports.
Lab-grown meat is subject to the same inspection process as conventionally produced meat. And now, the cultivated chicken products from Upside Foods and GOOD Meat will have the USDA's seal of approval.
Both Upside Foods and GOOD Meat have reached the "three key regulatory milestones," as detailed by Upside Foods: a “No Questions” letter from the FDA; USDA Label Approval; and a USDA Grant of Inspection. Essentially, that means both companies officially have the green light to sell their products in the U.S., which is a huge deal.
"This historic milestone is the culmination of years of dedication, ingenuity, and resilience from our team and supporters and marks the beginning of a whole new era in meat production," Upside Foods said in a statement. "Most of all, it means that soon, Americans will be able to enjoy delicious meat that doesn’t involve the slaughter of billions of animals every year.
“This announcement that we’re now able to produce and sell cultivated meat in the United States is a major moment for our company, the industry and the food system," Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of GOOD Meat, said in a statement.
The lab-grown chicken will soon be available in high-end restaurants.
Approval from the USDA will enable the two companies to sell their products to U.S. restaurants. Upside Foods’ lab-grown chicken will make its public debut at the San Francisco restaurant Bar Crenn, prepared by Michelin Star chef Dominique Crenn.
GOOD Meat has partnered with world-renowned chef José Andrés, who will serve the cultivated chicken at one of his restaurants in Washington, D.C. The specific restaurant has not yet been announced.
This is exciting news, as there are so reasons that lab-grown meat is a better choice for the future — here are just a few.
Lab-grown meats are more humane.
Lab-grown meat products are considered a more humane food source because they can be made without sending animals to the slaughterhouse. They aren’t meat substitutes, like Beyond Meat, but meat products made from the cells of live animals.
The “meat” is cultivated in steel vessels, where it grows into large sheets of muscle and connective tissue. The process takes about three weeks, after which the sheets are removed from the tanks and formed into cutlets, nuggets, sausages and other food products, reports AP News.
Lab-grown meat is expensive.
The price of lab-grown meat will likely be cost-prohibitive for most people. That is why cultivated chicken will only be available at high-end restaurants at first. The lab-grown chicken may be priced similarly to high-end organic chicken, which sells for $20 per pound, AP News reports.
That said, lab-grown meat may not be in grocery stores for a few more years.
You won’t be able to buy lab-grown chicken at the grocery store any time soon. Food industry experts estimate that it will be five to 10 years before lab-grown meats will make their way to grocery shelves, as per Bon Appétit.
“I think it’s going to be many, many, many years before it’s at Safeway,” food tech reporter Larissa Zimberoff told Bon Appétit. “Markets like Whole Foods are not going to accept this type of engineered food anytime soon, if ever.”
Both Upside Foods and GOOD Meat are planning to boost production to meet expected demands down the line. Upside Foods plans to expand its capacity from producing 50,000 pounds of cultivated meat to up to 400,000 pounds. The company is also looking for another space to eventually create “millions of pounds of cultivated meat products.” The future is so close we can taste it.