For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration is giving the green light to lab-grown meat. The agency said in a notice Wednesday that the “cultured chicken” product made by Upside Foods is safe to eat.
“FDA evaluated the information provided to the agency and there is no further question at this time about the firm’s safety conclusion,” the agency said.
“This is a historic moment in the history of food,” Uma Valetti, CEO and founder of the Berkeley, California-based company, said in a statement. “American consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that is grown directly from animal cells.”
According to his company, cells from a single chicken allow the same amount of poultry to be produced that now comes from hundreds of thousands of farmed birds.
Although the agency found Upside Foods’ chicken safe to eat, the product has not been approved for sale. Upside’s remaining hurdles before it can take its product to market include the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Food Safety and Inspection Service.
“As this product gets closer to entering the US market, we are coordinating closely with USDA-FSIS to ensure that it is properly regulated and labeled,” the FDA said.
Valetti, a cardiologist, started Upside in 2015 after coming up with the idea for what is now called “farmed” meat while working to grow human heart cells in a lab at the Mayo Clinic. recently told NPR. He reasoned that scientists could take cells from an animal with a needle biopsy, feed them nutrients, and produce meat.
Upside’s production facility in Emeryville, California, will be capable of producing more than 50,000 pounds a year, according to the company, once it is granted regulatory approval to sell its cultivated products.
Scientists say that about a third of human-caused greenhouse gases originate from food production, especially cattle. Proponents of lab-grown meat say it will help reduce methane emissions and combat global warming.