‘Seismic’: FDA says company’s laboratory-grown meat safe to eat

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said that a laboratory-grown meat product developed by a California company is safe for human consumption.

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The product, derived from real animal cells, would not require an animal to be slaughtered, The Washington Post reported. The FDA added that the product could be available someday in U.S. grocery stores and restaurants.

According to a news release, the FDA said that Emeryville-based Upside Foods will use animal cell culture technology to take living cells from chickens and grow them in a controlled environment to make cultured animal cell food, also known as cultivated meat.

“We evaluated the information Upside Foods submitted to the agency and have no further questions at this time about the firm’s safety conclusion,” the FDA said in a statement. “The voluntary pre-market consultation is not an approval process. Instead, it means that after our careful evaluation of the data and information shared by the firm, we have no further questions at this time about the firm’s safety conclusion.”

Upside Foods, formerly known as Memphis Meats, is harvesting cells from viable animal tissues and growing edible flesh under controlled conditions in bioreactors, according to the Post.

Currently, Singapore is the only country where cultivated meat is legally sold to consumers, the newspaper reported.

“Today we are one step closer to your dining tables as Upside Foods becomes the first company in the world to receive the USFDA green light,” Upside said in a statement on its website. “That means the FDA has evaluated our production process and accepts our conclusion that our cultivated chicken is safe to eat.”

According to the Good Food Institute, the cultivated-meat industry has grown to more than 151 companies on six continents, with more than $2.6 billion in investments, the Post reported.

“We will see this as the day the food system really started changing,” Costa Yiannoulis, managing partner at Synthesis Capital, the world’s largest food technology fund, told the newspaper. “The U.S. is the first meaningful market that has approved this -- this is seismic and groundbreaking.”