A California-based lab-grown meat start-up received the first green light for such products from the US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, although the product still faces additional hurdles before it can be sold to consumers.
The US Food and Drug Administration stated that it conducted a “careful evaluation” of Upside Foods’ cultivated chicken, using data and information provided by the company, and that it had “no further questions at this time,” indicating that the company was approved.
“We started UPSIDE in the face of scepticism, and today, we’ve made history again as the first company to receive a ‘No Questions’ letter from the FDA for cultivated meat,” said Uma Valeti, founder and CEO, in a press release.
The FDA stated that the evaluation was not “an approval process.”
Before it can sell its products, Upside Foods must still be inspected by the US Department of Agriculture, for example.
Nonetheless, this “is a watershed moment in the history of food,” according to Valeti.
A number of startups are working to produce so-called lab-grown meat, which would enable people to consume animal protein without causing any suffering to animals or harming the environment through farming.
These goods are distinct from plant-based alternatives like soy burgers, which imitate the flavour and texture of meat but do not contain any animal protein.
In Singapore in 2020, the start-up Eat Just, a rival of Upside Foods, became the first to be granted permission to produce synthetic meat.
While it has proven difficult and expensive to succeed in the general lab-meat market, some businesses have turned their attention to pet food, whose customers are much less picky.
A Colorado startup called Bond Pet Foods uses microbial fermentation to produce animal protein for canine consumption.