Jun 21, 2023 - Economy

Lab-grown chicken is getting closer to a plate near you

A nugget made from lab-grown chicken meat is seen during a media presentation in Singapore on Dec. 22, 2020. Photo: Nicholas YEO / AFP via Getty Images

Lab-grown chicken got U.S. Department of Agriculture approval Wednesday — a major breakthrough for "cell-cultivated" meats.

Why it matters: Lab-grown foods could be inching closer to restaurants and eventually to markets with the first U.S. regulator approval.

Details: The USDA granted two California companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, approval to receive federal inspections required for selling meat and poultry.

  • The companies have been working to get cultivated meat onto the U.S. market for years.

Catch up quick: The Food and Drug Administration already deemed food from both companies safe for human consumption.

  • But before the food could enter the market, it needed a full USDA inspection.

The big picture: Advancements in cell-culture technology have helped food developers use animal cells to produce food.

  • This type of production allows for food that tastes like meat without most of the environmental or animal welfare drawbacks of conventional production.
  • In 2019, the FDA and the USDA agreed to regulate these cell-cultured meats.

Yes, but: The lab-grown chicken may not be hitting the grocery aisles just yet.

  • Both companies will launch their cultivated chicken in limited quantities through select restaurant partners.
  • Upside already processed its first order for its cultivated chicken, placed by three-Michelin-star chef Dominique Crenn, the company said Wednesday.
  • Good Meat also said it started production immediately for the first batch of its cultivated chicken for restaurateur José Andrés, whose company operates more than two dozen restaurants across the U.S.

What they're saying: "This approval will fundamentally change how meat makes it to our table," Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of UPSIDE Foods, said in a statement.

  • "It's a giant step forward towards a more sustainable future - one that preserves choice and life," Valeti added.

Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, which operates Good Meat, called the announcement "a major moment for our company, the industry and the food system."

  • The USDA did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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