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Good Meat and Upside Foods get final OK to sell cultivated chicken

Illustration of a chicken with dollar signs for eyes.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Upside Foods and Good Meat yesterday became the first U.S. companies to win federal approval to begin selling lab-grown chicken.

Why it matters: The sign-off from the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes the U.S. only the second country, after Singapore, to approve sales of meat made in a lab instead of a farm.

The latest: The USDA cleared the way for restaurants to begin serving "cell-cultivated chicken" from rival California startups Upside Foods and Good Meat.

  • Upside says its chicken will be on the menu at Bar Crenn in San Francisco.
  • Good Meat will be served at a yet-to-be-named José Andrés restaurant in D.C.

Yes, but: It'll be years before either company's lab-grown chicken is available on store shelves.

  • The USDA granted "label approval" for food service and distribution.
  • The agency will need to approve a retail label, an Upside spokesperson tells Axios.

Between the lines: The "cell-cultivated" label is a win for such startups, which fought efforts by conventional meat companies to apply terms like "lab-grown" or entirely bar the use of words such as "chicken."

  • Upside and Good Meat are the first to finish the review process by both the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.
  • A USDA spokesperson declined to disclose how many other companies are seeking similar label approval.

By the numbers: Investment in alternative proteins sagged in Q1 as food-tech dealmaking fell 40% from Q1 2022, per PitchBook.

  • Upside Foods has raised $608 million, a spokesperson tells Axios.
  • Good Meat's parent company, Eat Just, has raised about $800 million.

Of note: Meat and dairy production generate about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, per the UN.

The other side: At least one study has raised doubts whether lab-grown meat is better — and found that it may in fact be worse.

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