Nov 17, 2022 - Science

Lab-grown meat gets first FDA signoff

A technician displays a lab-grown chicken meat in a sealed bag.

A technician displays lab-grown chicken meat in a sealed bag. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

Lab-grown poultry from a California startup is safe for human consumption, the Food and Drug Administration said.

Why it matters: It's a major milestone for cell-cultivated meats and could be a sign that these foods will be available in U.S. stores and restaurants.

Driving the news: The FDA said Wednesday it completed its first pre-market consultation of human food developed from cultured animal cells and "has no further questions at this time" about the food's safety.

  • The startup UPSIDE Foods, which develops cell-grown chicken, provided information to the FDA based on food made from cultured chicken cells.
  • These foods could become more commonplace in the U.S. market "in the near future," the FDA said.
  • Before the food can enter the market, the facility where its made needs to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA standards, the FDA said. The food itself will also need a full USDA inspection.

What is lab-grown meat?

Recent advancements in cell-culture technology have helped food developers use animal cells to produce food. Within the last three years, the FDA and the USDA agreed to regulate these cell-cultured meats.

  • "The FDA is ready to work with additional firms developing cultured animal cell food and production processes to ensure their products are safe and lawful," said FDA commissioner Robert Califf and Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in a statement.

The big picture: Multiple startups are now working to produce animal protein by growing animal cells. But this type of food is still experiencing growing pains. For example, officials are unsure what to call it.

  • The increase in production comes amid a fake-meat boom, which could grow by 10x by 2029, Barclays analysts estimated in 2019.

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