From cells to steaks: FDA says LAB-grown meat is safe to eat, paving the way for products

The Food and Drug Administration has declared lab-grown meat products developed by a California company safe for human consumption, paving the way for their debut in American restaurants and grocery stores.

The agency’s decision on Wednesday applies to farmed chicken produced by Upside Foods, but it would likely bring in products from any of the dozens of companies pursuing lab-grown meat in America.

The regulatory approval comes at a time of concern about agriculture’s impact on climate change, but also with consumers largely abandoning the pandemic’s brief flirtation with plant-based alternatives to beef and chicken.

The Food and Drug Administration has declared lab-grown meat products developed by a California company safe for human consumption, paving the way for their debut in US restaurants and grocery stores.

The agency's decision on Wednesday applies to farmed chicken produced by Upside Foods, but it would likely bring in products from any of the dozens of companies pursuing lab-grown meat in America.  Above: A look inside the Upside Foods lab

The agency’s decision on Wednesday applies to farmed chicken produced by Upside Foods, but it would likely bring in products from any of the dozens of companies pursuing lab-grown meat in America. Above: A look inside the Upside Foods lab

Upside Foods, formerly Memphis Meats, harvests cells from viable animal tissue and grows edible meat under controlled conditions in bioreactors. The company says this product will be identical to conventionally raised chicken.

The FDA’s consultations with the company before it went to market included an evaluation of the company’s production process and cell culture materials resulting from the production process, including the establishment of cell lines and cell banks, manufacturing controls, and all components and inputs, the regulatory agency said in a statement.

The agency also said it is already in contact with several companies about different types of other foods produced from cell lines grown in the lab.

“We’re going to see this as the day when the food system really starts to change,” Costa Yanoulis, managing partner at Synthesis Capital, the world’s largest food technology fund, told The Washington Post. “The US is the first meaningful market to agree to this — it’s seismic and groundbreaking.” .

Yiannoulis also explained to the newspaper that while his company’s technology is transferable to other animal species, each product must be approved separately by regulators.

He estimated that, with USDA approval, it would take months before her chickens were on supermarket shelves.

Advocates for alternative meats and veganism think this approval is a positive step, but it remains to be seen if consumers will broadly adapt their behavior.

The FDA's consultations with the company before it went to market included an evaluation of the company's production process and cell culture materials resulting from the production process, including the establishment of cell lines and cell banks, manufacturing controls, and all components and inputs, the regulatory agency said in a statement.

The FDA’s consultations with the company before it went to market included an evaluation of the company’s production process and cell culture materials resulting from the production process, including the establishment of cell lines and cell banks, manufacturing controls, and all components and inputs, the regulatory agency said in a statement.

Costa Iannoulis, managing partner at Synthesis Capital, the world's largest food technology fund, told The Washington Post:

“We’re going to see this as the day when the food system really starts to change,” Costa Yanoulis, managing partner at Synthesis Capital, the world’s largest food technology fund, told The Washington Post. “The US is the first meaningful market to agree to this — and that’s seismic.” and pioneer

Two of the most popular plant-based meat companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, are going through tough years — the latter seeing its inventory drop by 75 percent and having to lay off workers after consumers returned to buying beef and chicken after Covid pandemic fears spread far.

“The FDA uses the same regulatory review process as GM crops, which has not led to widespread consumer confidence or global market acceptance,” Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology project director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the paper.

According to the USDA, every company that produces these products is required to obtain approval from each agency, regardless of whether they follow the same production method as the company that receives the approval, the USDA said in a statement.

Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology project manager at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told The Post

Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology project manager at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told The Post

Two of the most well-known plant-based meat companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, have been going through tough years — the latter of which saw their inventory drop by 75 percent.  Above: Another Upside Foods product

Two of the most well-known plant-based meat companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, have been going through tough years — the latter of which saw their inventory drop by 75 percent. Above: Another Upside Foods product

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