US approves cultivated chicken in ‘watershed moment’

The commercialisation of lab-grown meat took a huge step forward this week after US regulators judged that cultivated chicken is safe to eat.

Leading cultivated meat producer Upside Foods has become the first company in the world to receive a "no questions" letter from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cultivated meat, poultry, or seafood.

The FDA concluded that foods comprised of or containing cultured chicken cell material resulting from Upside Food’s production process are as safe as comparable foods produced by other methods.

It opens the door to the company’s cultivated chicken filet to be sold in the US market. To-date, only Singapore has given regulatory approval for cultivated meat.

Upside Foods CEO and founder Dr Uma Valeti described the verdict as “a watershed moment in the history of food” and “a major step towards a new era in meat production”.

The news was welcomed by ProVeg International. “This paves the way for cultivated meat to enter the US, a major market, bringing a method of meat production to America that emits less greenhouse gas and does not involve the suffering of animals. It really is a ground-breaking development,” said Mathilde Alexandre, senior project manager for cellular agriculture at the NGO.

ProVeg said it does not expect to see approval in Europe for cultivated meat until 2025 or 2026.

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