US regulators approve sale of chicken made from animal cells as nation’s first ‘lab-grown’ meat

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the sale of chicken made from animal cells, according to CNBC.

It would become the country’s first-ever “lab-grown” meat, according to The Associated Press.

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Upside Foods and Good Meat are firms working to sell meat in the U.S. that doesn’t come from slaughtered animals but instead comes from cells of animals that are grown in laboratories, according to the AP. It’s part of “a new era of meat production,” eliminating harm to animals and reducing environmental impacts. according to Josh Tetrick, co-founder, and chief executive of Eat Just, which operates Good Meat.

“Instead of all of that land and all of that water that’s used to feed all of these animals that are slaughtered, we can do it in a different way,” Tetrick said, according to the AP.

The approvals for Upside Foods and Good Meat came months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that the products from both firms are good and safe to eat, the AP reported. Joinn Biologics, which works with Good Meat, has been approved to manufacture the products as well.

“This approval will fundamentally change how meat makes it to our table,” Upside Foods founder and CEO Uma Valeti said in a statement obtained by CNBC. “It’s a giant step forward towards a more sustainable future — one that preserves choice and life.”

“Lab-grown” meat is also known as cultivated meat. Cultivated meat is grown in steel tanks and uses cells from a living animal, fertilized egg and a bank of stored cells, according to the AP. Upside Food uses large sheets of cultivated meat that are then made into shapes of chicken sausages or cutlets. Good Meat turns chicken cells into cutlets, nuggets, and more.

The USDA will start to inspect cultured meat facilities just like regular meat processing plants and slaughterhouses, CNBC reported.

Cultivated chicken may not be seen in U.S. grocery stores for a while because it is more expensive than meat from whole, farmed chicken, said Ricardo San Martin director of the Alt:Meat Lab at the University of California Berkeley, according to the AP. Companies that will be serving the cultivated chicken first will be exclusive restaurants. The chicken is a meat product, not plant-based substitutes like Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger.

Companies all over the world are working to create lamb, fish and beef from cells, the AP reported.